graphic reading Andell Family Sundays Anytime

Andell Family Sundays Anytime—Quilting at Home

February 21, 2021
Rosanne Kleinerman, Teaching Artist

By now you've probably gone through all your stuff and wondered why you kept that t-shirt you grew out of or why you still have those checkered shorts your dog uses as a chew toy. You were probably keeping them for something special—and guess what—that time is here. You are going to use your old stuff to make a quilt.

Well, it will probably be a small quilt, maybe for your toys or your pet. Or maybe you'll call it a wall hanging or a masterwork or a collage. You can work that part out later!

A Little History

For hundreds of years, American women have made quilts. Quilts to keep everybody warm and to give to family members who were moving away. Quilts to beautify their homes and to express their ideas through art. Quilts to tell stories.

Sometimes a quilt was designed to commemorate a special occasion and given as a gift. These quilts became treasured belongings that were kept and handed down to family members for decades. For centuries even. Can you imagine?! Some of these fantastic quilts (and everyday ones too) have ended up in LACMA's collection.

Look At Art

Quilt, House Medallion with Multiple Borders, United States, c. 1880, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, American Quilt Research Center Acquisition Fund, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA
Quilt, House Medallion with Multiple Borders, United States, c. 1880, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, American Quilt Research Center Acquisition Fund, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

The quilt above was made around 1880, but it seems so perfect for today. A quilt about your home—how wonderful!

Mary P. Allen, Memorial Quilt, 1841–47, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Laurence A. Ferris, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA
Mary P. Allen, Memorial Quilt, 1841–47, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Laurence A. Ferris, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

This is a portion of a memorial quilt made by Mary P. Allen in the 1840s. A memorial quilt is made to remember a loved one. This quilt was designed in a different way than the house quilt.

Sometimes family members and friends would sign their names and draw on pieces of fabric that would get sewn into the big quilt.

Can you spot the drawing of the small dog that is carrying—in its mouth—a basket with a smaller dog inside? Are you as interested in this as I am? There's a story here, but I don't know what it is. Maybe you can make one up. And while you are doing that, now seems like a good time to start your own quilt.

Let's Make a Quilt!

supplies for art activity
Supplies for quilt making activity, image courtesy of Rosanne Kleinerman

Collect Your Supplies:

  • Fabric scraps—Maybe you have fabric in the house, or get that old t-shirt and shorts outfit we talked about in the beginning of this post.
  • Paper—Don't have fabric? How about some colored paper or some of your old drawings?
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Something to glue your scraps onto (paper, cardboard, or a bigger piece of fabric)

Supplies spread out to begin the project
Supplies spread out to begin the project, image courtesy of Rosanne Kleinerman

Get Started

Find a place where you can spread out and work. Cut your fabric into pieces or cut and tear your paper into interesting shapes.

Are you going to create an image? A person, a place, a thing? Are you more interested in seeing how shapes, colors, and textures look together? You are the artist. Do what makes you happy!

final composition
Final composition, image courtesy of Rosanne Kleinerman

Compose!

Arrange and rearrange your fabric and/or paper pieces until you get them exactly the way you want them. Think about overlapping pieces or creating texture. 

You might have to get up and step back to get a better look at what you are making.

Put It All Together

If you already know how to sew, or have an adult who can show you how to do it, you can carefully pin your fabric (and paper) pieces together and stitch seams to connect them.

If you don't have a sewing machine or an adult who wants sharp objects anywhere near you, regular white or clear school glue is a better option and will still do the trick of transforming all your little pieces into a quilt.

example of placing glue around outside border of piece with and X across the middle
Example of how to place glue on pieces, image courtesy of Rosanne Kleinerman

Glue It

Let's talk about glue for a moment. For this project you don't need to use that much glue. Turn your cut pieces over so they are face down on your table. Squeeze glue along the edges of each piece of fabric (or paper) and some in the middle too. Then press your pieces onto whatever surface you are working on.

If you use too much glue, it might soak through the front of the fabric or paper and make it hard and brittle when it dries. This is okay if you want a hard and brittle quilt. There is nothing wrong with this. It might make a great gift. You're the artist, there is no wrong way.

Think About It

You probably started peeling the glue off your fingers. It's fun! But go wash your hands, clean up your work area, and find a place for your artwork to dry.

example made of fabric and paper
Example made of fabric and paper, image courtesy of Alicia Vogl Saenz

Later on, hang your artwork up on the wall to look at it. Now that you've seen it, what are you going to call it? Is it a quilt, a wall hanging, a masterwork, a collage, or something else? What are you going to do with it?

Does it tell a story? Do you need to write or draw on top of some areas? Do you want to write about your artwork?

I would love to hear about your project and how you are using it. See if you can get your adult to leave a comment below to tell us about your artwork.

There are all kinds of things in your home that you can reuse, recycle, and remake into art. Is it fun to take your old stuff and turn it into something new? You betcha! Are you ready to make something else? You can thank me later.

If you share your artwork on social media, tag us at @lacma! We love seeing your art!

Looking for more family art activities? Browse additional Andell Family Sundays Anytime blogs or visit LACMA's YouTube channel for art-making videos.