Unraveled: Quilting With Kids

by the GenQ Crew on August 15, 2011

Quilting with your kids is a great way to spend time with your family, bond over something creative, and share the joy that can only come from—Tyler! What are you doing to the cat? That is not a crayon sharpener and you know it. Put the crayon down. No, not there! Not there, either. Tyler, you put that where I think you’re about to put it and you’ll never see another crayon again, got it?

As I was saying, quilting with kids can be a lot of fun if you are prepared and have just the right project. Some kids will want to go with a theme quilt: dinosaurs, or robots, or fairies. No, Tyler, you don’t have to have fairies. Of course there are boy fairies; don’t you remember that Tinkerbell movie we got for your sister? It had—for goodness sakes, Tyler, get your finger out of your throat and stop making that noise. You know if you keep that up, you’ll throw up for real and then you’ll have to go to bed for the rest of the day. Is that what you want? I didn’t think so.

Tyler here has chosen to do an I-Spy quilt. So we have about 144 5-inch squares, each with a different novelty print. I found these squares all pre-cut as a kit on eBay! Tyler, why are you making that face? They do not smell weird. Give me that. (Sniff!) Oh, good God. (choking) I think somebody died on that.  Where are you going with that piece and why are you giggling? What is on that fabric, Tyler? Don’t you stuff it down your pants. Let me see that. Now. What is so—oh, my. Well. I didn’t even know they made pornographic quilting fabric. No, we are not giving it to daddy. Go sit down.

Okay, well. I guess the lesson here is it’s probably best to use your own stash or get your kit from a trusted source, and not some random stranger on the internet who is probably on parole. Still, it’s best to have the squares cut ahead of time, because we don’t want curious fingers getting tempted by the rotary cutter, do we? TYLER, DO NOT STICK THAT SEAM RIPPER IN YOUR EAR. No, you cannot try to “touch your brain” with something else. Please just play with your Nintendo for 5 minutes and then you’ll get to start sewing. Won’t that be fun? Don’t you roll your eyes at me, young man.

You’ll have to decide whether your kids are old enough to try pinning the fabric themselves. I’m pretty sure Tyler here would try to eat the pins or use them to attach a tail to his little sister or something, so I’ll just handle that part myself. Once you have two pieces pinned, you can let your child try sewing a seam on his own. Now, Tyler, come sit over here in front of the sewing machine. Not on the floor, in the chair. Sit up, please. I said sit up, not stand up. Bottom on the seat, Tyler. Bottom on the seat. Bottom on the seat. Tyler, sit your butt down on that seat this minute. Let me tell you something, kid, and listen very closely. I will not be taking anybody to Chuck E. Cheese tomorrow if this keeps up, do you understand me?

Once you’ve shown them how to guide the fabric under the presser foot, set the machine speed to low, and let them try it, keeping an eye on them the whole time to…Tyler! How on earth did you manage to get your underpants caught in there? I only looked away for two seconds. Stop squirming. Stop squirming! No, it will not sew over your winky, if you just stay still. Calm down; I’ve almost got it. There! Okay, now I just have to get this fabric mess out from under the needle and…


What is this?

You better look scared. Is this GUM? DID YOU PUT GUM IN MY SEWING MACHINE?


So. Sewing with kids. Did I mention that it goes better if you have several shots of tequila first? And no kids? Yeah. Much better. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go lock myself in the bathroom until Tyler jimmies it open with my Purple Thang.

-Megan Dougherty

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{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Linni Identicon Icon Linni August 15, 2011 at 3:42 am

ROFL….Tyler sounds just like my son Nathan, who has already filmed himself flashing his butt…and he is only 6!!! I have decided to retain my sanity and the integrity of my sewing stuff by never allowing him anywhere near it!


Gail Leder Identicon Icon Gail Leder August 15, 2011 at 3:43 am

Priceless!! I love it, so funny!


Sandy Navas Identicon Icon Sandy Navas August 15, 2011 at 3:47 am

I thought Megan’s kids were girls . . . as usual, this is a great piece. Somehow I think we’ve all been there at one time or another.


Gene Black Identicon Icon Gene Black August 15, 2011 at 4:19 am

My rule is that you should never name a boy Tyler. I think there is some cosmic law that makes them incorrigible. I am the godfather to a Tyler. I got an email from my Tyler’s dad asking “What did I do to deserve this?” At the time he was three and loved flushing everything down the toilet to see it disappear- Tyler that is, not his Dad. Did I mention they were in Okinawa. Have you considered sending Tyler away to Okinawa for “schooling”? Just a thought, it would save on sewing machine repair bills.


marietta Identicon Icon marietta August 15, 2011 at 4:42 am

LOL Love it, Love Megan! My grandson Ty, just turned 2. I had visions of us one day sitting down and sewing a little something up, As he is All Boy, I think I will leave the sewing, crafting to his mother, let her have all the fun! Thanks Megan and GenQ.


Dana Identicon Icon Dana August 15, 2011 at 4:52 am

Have the names and sexes been changed to protect the not so innocent? That sounds like you have actually lived it. I think it’s best to let our children learn things that we can’t teach them. Keeps us all sane and you get to drop them off while someone else deals with their learning.


Sequana Identicon Icon Sequana August 15, 2011 at 5:38 am

My grandson Tyler will be a senior in HS this fall and is a perfectly wonderful young man, no matter how he began. :) So there is hope for yours. Don’t give up.


Lush Identicon Icon Lush August 15, 2011 at 5:46 am

ROFLMFAO!!!!! I did manage to make one quilt with my son when he was around ten but it was so traumatic for the 2 of us it has never been repeated.
I am one of those people who shudders when someone says “oh I can’t even sew a button & I’m a total idiot with machines but I would love you to teach me to quilt”. They generally hand you a 300 armed mariners compass or some other simple pattern.
Quite frankly naming any kid Tyler is a recipe for disaster same goes for Jason.
Love the work, keep it up.
London, UK


Nancy Identicon Icon Nancy August 15, 2011 at 5:48 am

He He…how funny… I remember those days very well..luckily no gum ended up in my machine…


duff Identicon Icon duff August 15, 2011 at 5:49 am

wow. Tyler sounds like a lovely, inquisitive child. One who should be given Benadryll on a regular basis. When my little guy was actually little, I would get everything set up so all he had to do was sew one straight line (rag quilt!). he loved it. the recipient loved it. he never asked to sew again so I loved it. everyone’s happy!


Tammie C Identicon Icon Tammie C August 15, 2011 at 5:50 am

Thankfully, I have no children, and this column was a sweet reminder of why that was a good decision. I did have an easier time teaching my little sister… but I was a nervous wreck and she is a genius… so all went well. I don’t think Disney World is for the little one either… no appreciation… UGH! Love you Megan!!


Deborah Identicon Icon Deborah August 15, 2011 at 5:52 am

Another winner! “No you cannot try to touch your brain….” Love it!

Now cough it up as promised……”It’s ok. I’m a doctor.” Can’t wait to read that one!


Kit Lang Identicon Icon Kit Lang August 15, 2011 at 5:55 am

“No you cannot ‘try to touch your brain’…” brought back a LOT of memories. Good ones, mostly. ;)

You’re lucky with “Tyler”. My *name changed to protect the now innocent* would have tried to touch his brother’s brain. ;)

The same son once took apart my prized (and only) sewing machine because he “wanted to see how it worked”. He’s now an engineer so I count the loss as a worthy one. But after that I went to charity shops and bought him electronics he could take THEM apart.

I would never have dared to teach either of them how to use a sewing machine.

Jodie Carleton over at Vintage RicRac has a funny story about teaching her son to use the sewing machine. You should check it out. :)


KellyS Identicon Icon KellyS August 15, 2011 at 6:02 am

OMG this is hilarious! Something to look forward to, as mine are only 2 right now and not interested in sewing with mommy. I love sewing over the winky part. I have one boy that would somehow get his caught in there too. :)


Rebecca Merry Identicon Icon Rebecca Merry August 15, 2011 at 6:05 am

LOL! There definitely is some strong drinking required to try and get boys to sit still and sew! We have had the “butt in the chair” talk around here. The daughter LOVES to try her hand at sewing but Jack is all about unwinding bobbins and “tying things up”


Monica Nauert Identicon Icon Monica Nauert August 15, 2011 at 6:13 am

Let me know if you need me to babysit Tyler. I do not have any ability to teach him anything good, but I am used to this form of abuse and find myself numb to it; plus, my son would have someone to play with that truly understands him…and I have two sewing machines. And Tequila.


Jill Tafoya Identicon Icon Jill Tafoya August 15, 2011 at 6:15 am

OMGosh… so funny… my 2 year old daughter just spilled an entire bottle of basting glue on my latest project yesterday, thank goodness it’s water soluble. “I help, Mommie!!!” Yeah right… :)


Flaun Identicon Icon Flaun August 15, 2011 at 6:16 am

Ah, the joys of sewing with children. My daughter still hasn’t finished her quilt – and it’s nearly done!


Mary Identicon Icon Mary August 15, 2011 at 6:16 am

Makes me glad I didn’t take up sewing until my kids were grown. I wonder if this is REALLY what sewing with kids is like over at Amy’s Creative Side! ;)


Lori Identicon Icon Lori August 15, 2011 at 6:36 am



Ann Marie Identicon Icon Ann Marie August 15, 2011 at 6:44 am

Got to hand it to Tyler, not a day goes by I am sure that you don’t have great laughs all day long. Enjoy him while he is little. They grow up way to fast.


jen b-k Identicon Icon jen b-k August 15, 2011 at 7:39 am

Yet another item that makes me so very grateful that I don’t have children….cause really, that doesn’t sound too far off from my sewing when I’m alone what would I do if I had a “mini-me”…..


Sara Identicon Icon Sara August 15, 2011 at 7:43 am

Very very glad I’ve started quilting in my early 20s, giving me plenty of child-less quilting time. If they’re this much hassle, I mightn’t even bother having any. I hear they also cut into fabric money, because they need feeding and stuff. I think I’ll continue with the single childless vibe I’ve got going. It makes for an excellent stash. And a chewing gum-less machine, thank-god.


Deborah in Atlanta Identicon Icon Deborah in Atlanta August 15, 2011 at 8:04 am

Wow! How glad I am that I didn’t take up quilting until I was in my 50′s. My kids are now in their 30′s. But how well I remember “those days”. Tyler sounds like a handful. Bendadryl for him, and Tequila for you sounds like a good match.


Cherie in St Louis Identicon Icon Cherie in St Louis August 15, 2011 at 8:08 am

OMG….Megan you always make me laugh! I am SOOOOOO glad I no longer have children at home. Think of the dangerous sewing accessories I’d have to monitor, rotary cutter, scissors, safety pins, irons, pins, needles, rulers that could fly like frizbees, oh my!!


Sarah Craig Identicon Icon Sarah Craig August 15, 2011 at 8:24 am

I think I probably owe my grandmother, who taught me how to sew, a huge apology – and maybe a bottle of Jack Daniels! Thanks for starting my day off with a huge laugh and smile, Megan! You knocked it out of the park again!!


Denise Identicon Icon Denise August 15, 2011 at 8:50 am

HAHAHAHAHAHA Oh my, I love it!! I was never really able to do a full-size project w/my active kiddos until they were MUCH older & you’ve given a fantastic description of WHY!! (heehee still giggling…)


Carolyn Thomas Identicon Icon Carolyn Thomas August 15, 2011 at 9:22 am

Clear up until the 8th grade, my son (a William, not a Tyler) was only interested in TAKING apart my sewing machine. He did take apart my 35mm camera when he was 3. In fact at 25, he still probably wants to take apart my sewing machine. LOL


Aimee Identicon Icon Aimee August 15, 2011 at 9:27 am

Having just started my Almost-Six-Year-Old sewing an a real live sewing machine, hoo-boy can I relate! The scary thing is that she was sewing straighter seams than I did when I got my first machine at 12, and she can’t wait to do some more.

I think I’m in trouble…


Leah Day Identicon Icon Leah Day August 15, 2011 at 9:28 am

Lol! That is absolutely hilarious! Tyler sounds a lot like my son James, though he has not yet had the idea to sew his underpants to anything.

But allow me to start a troll war about one thing – concern over a child using sewing pins and tools is SO ridiculous!

If the child is an idiot they will prick or cut themselves only once to know it hurts and then never do it again. I’m a fan of Parenting Via Pain – if they get hurt they will likely behave better, or at least learn something.

Keep in mind – 100 years ago we were teaching fine embroidery to 4 year olds and boys and girls alike knew how to knit proficiently by the age of 8. We also all used to die around the age of 40, but let’s just ignore that fact for the sake of my argument.

Cheers Megan – wonderful post!



Sonya Anderson Identicon Icon Sonya Anderson August 15, 2011 at 9:32 am

LOL! I have been teaching my daughter quilting. She made her first quilt at age 5 by drawing a picture with fabric crayons and we added a border and some quilting. She completed her second quilt (age 6) using fusible web to make simple butterflies and flowers for an art quilt. After quilting, I helped her add crystals to give her quilt a little sparkle. She is a delight to teach, so there is hope for those of you without kids or ones too young as yet to try! It helps that my daughter is addicted to creating.


Lisa Sipes Identicon Icon Lisa Sipes August 15, 2011 at 9:36 am

Perfect read for a Monday morning. And frighteningly accurate!
Did you know that quilting with a cat around is strangely similar?


DianeY Identicon Icon DianeY August 15, 2011 at 10:11 am

Oh Tyler! I think I would have to lock myself in the bathroom with a bottle of Tequila till he turned 20! Thank heavens my experiences with sewing with kids (girls) have been quite pleasant!
Loved the article!


Lauren Identicon Icon Lauren August 15, 2011 at 10:36 am

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Both my sons love to hang out with me in my quilt room and “help”. Thanks for writing this!!!


Mary Beth Identicon Icon Mary Beth August 15, 2011 at 10:49 am

I am laughing myself to death!!! My son is now 28 and an engineer but I’ll never forget the time he took my fabric paint and spilled it on my new couch. (We had been making painted T shirts) We had a dog named TEX and he said to me : “Tex did it!” “Tex did it!” is still the saying around here when something breaks or gets messed up!!! Thank goodness he didn’t want to sew, however he did make a quilt block at the Houston Quilt Show last year. HHHHMMMM wonder if I should hide my machines at this late date?
Mary Beth


Jodi Identicon Icon Jodi August 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm

That is so funny! I can just see it and I would be the same way trying to teach an energetic boy. I vote for the tequila and NO kids while sewing – LOL!


Dianne Identicon Icon Dianne August 15, 2011 at 1:14 pm

OMG Funny!!!! Meghan I love, love, love your articles. PMPLOL!!!!


Angela O. Identicon Icon Angela O. August 15, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Hahahaha! Love it! And that is one of the reasons I don’t have kids! That and I have more money to spend on fabric! Love your articles, keep them coming!


Jacque Identicon Icon Jacque August 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Hey, ya’ll!! It doesn’t always get better when they get older…..my 23 year old daughter lives at home and has her own business (she’s a geek) and she STILL takes things apart and puts ‘em back together, and paints rooms cos they needed it, and builds things and leaves dads tools everywhere, and sews her own clothes and monopolizes and breaks my machine…..need I go any further???!! LOL
Love your post, girl – YOU ROCK!


Marla Identicon Icon Marla August 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I KNEW there was a reason I did not sew much during my children’s “formative” years! Thanks for the laugh!


Jane Identicon Icon Jane August 15, 2011 at 5:29 pm

I hope you remembered to bring the tequila into the bathroom:)


Lisa Identicon Icon Lisa August 15, 2011 at 5:32 pm

OMG! Hysterical, as usual! Yes, I have kids, and everything you wrote is TRUE! Bwahahahahaha… Now I have to run to the bathroom, before I pee myself…. :)


Gail Identicon Icon Gail August 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I love Tyler…he’s my kind of kid. Keeps you hoppin’ Right????Fun piece ..enjoyed it thoroughly and can certainly relate.


Teresa Identicon Icon Teresa August 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm

ROFLMAO does not even begin to describe it!


Jan O in St Louis Identicon Icon Jan O in St Louis August 15, 2011 at 6:33 pm

LOL! Love it! My Eric was just like your Tyler at that age. What a handful!
Kudos to you all at GenQ – I love your site, visit everyday. Wishing you all the best!


Katherine Identicon Icon Katherine August 15, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Have you bugged our house? Seriously where are the listening devices? Thank you for changing the name from Sebastian to Tyler to protect the “innocent”. Can’t wait to read your next piece as always it had me ROTFLMAO, and trust me my A** needs all the OFF it can get. xoxox


Lucy Identicon Icon Lucy August 16, 2011 at 5:09 am

Some brave people are just meant to be parents. My name has never been considered for that list. Thanks for the morning chuckle and the knowledge that, no matter how many times I have to unpick a seam and retry it, it will always be easier without little hands helping!!


Sally Thornton Identicon Icon Sally Thornton August 16, 2011 at 9:15 am

I had two grandchildren who wanted to learn to sew. So we started with a pillow case. My grandson is more impressed with farts than with sewing. My granddaughter, just a couple years older, did very well. I loved the whole Quilting with Kids thing. Keep it up!!


Amanda Identicon Icon Amanda August 16, 2011 at 11:50 am

Don’t they make sewing machines for little ones that are indestructible like Easy Bake Ovens? Perhaps you need to start with one of those. Or those stretchy bands that you can weave into potholders. That might be safer for now.


Kathryn Identicon Icon Kathryn August 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Never attempted to quilt with my son, but I did teach him how to make GI Joe a sleeping bag on the machine. And bandolero straps. Joe needed needed to be outfitted properly for combat, you see.


Helen Identicon Icon Helen August 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm

LMAO!!! Fine article, as usual (from reading your writings), I’m peeing my pants laughing!

THANKS for writing and entertaining us!


quiltzyx/sue Identicon Icon quiltzyx/sue August 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Choking, coughing….gasping for air….
My lord Megan, you’ve done it again!

Thanks for that. ;^)


Arlene Identicon Icon Arlene August 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Oh, my! Went through it with my kids — now my grandkids. It’s a lot more fun this time around. Thanks for the laughs.


Tsigeyusv Identicon Icon Tsigeyusv August 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Thankfully, my kids are much older now, and I can work without worrying about having to call the doctor when I leave them unsupervised for 15 minutes. I’m snorting laughing on your description of sewing with kids, as I can just see the state of that household now!


mike Identicon Icon mike August 17, 2011 at 5:30 am

Everyone should experience a Tyler , once………………
Makes you a better person ?
I so enjoy your humor ….keep it up , you make my day !


Jeannette Identicon Icon Jeannette August 18, 2011 at 7:54 am

Megan, thanks for reminding me why I ran away from home without leaving a forwarding address a couple of months after becoming a grandmother. I now can almost get away with pretending I followed my own advice – “Stay single and raise cats”.


HouseDragon Identicon Icon HouseDragon August 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Oh dear! You should have warned: pee before reading!

My DD has three Tylers on her hands ……. it’s never ending chaos.

Plus a house fun of laughter.


Judy Guthrie Identicon Icon Judy Guthrie August 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Oh dear!
THAT truly sorted out my morning!!!! I laughed so much I nearly peed my pants and every time I think about it I’m in trouble…again!!! Old age has something to do with …but it really is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time.
Thanks for so much fun!! You brighten my days.
Judy G


Brenda S Identicon Icon Brenda S August 19, 2011 at 10:45 am

Hahaha – kids and quilting – I don’t think I have the patience…


NICCI Identicon Icon NICCI August 19, 2011 at 5:10 pm



Janine S. Identicon Icon Janine S. August 20, 2011 at 6:24 am

Loved this post! Gave me my morning chuckle.


Debby Identicon Icon Debby August 20, 2011 at 9:46 am

Love your stuff you can brighten up the saddest day keep up the great work. Tyler may be to young to quit.


Lori Identicon Icon Lori August 20, 2011 at 10:02 am

Wonderful! Yes, the joys of children…so creative… HA! Love your writing. Always fun. Thanks!!


mojo Identicon Icon mojo August 22, 2011 at 7:05 am

Hahahahahaha! I didn’t let my kids near my sewing stuff till they were older, but my Tom liked to watch me sew when he was two-ish. He also liked to stuff sequins up his nose when I sewed a prom dress once…
Same kid now likes to take things apart and rebuild them differently (Frankenbike, Robo-blender…)


Laura Identicon Icon Laura August 22, 2011 at 7:24 am

LOL! So, it’s the tequila I’ve been missing! When left alone for two minutes during breakfast, one son covered his twin brother’s face with cream cheese. These boys will never touch my machine!


Traci Identicon Icon Traci August 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Another funny (fictional) post, thanks Megan for the chuckle!


Fay Identicon Icon Fay August 22, 2011 at 4:34 pm

my mom only thought we would sew our fingers!


Patti J. Identicon Icon Patti J. August 22, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Just change the name from Tyler to Blake and you just wrote about my son and our experience with sewing. To say the least, we NEVER made a project together.


Tracie Identicon Icon Tracie August 24, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Funny very funny!!! I really do not have the patience to teach sewing to myself let alone a kid.


Peggy Identicon Icon Peggy August 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm

So true! No one can make that kind of stuff up unless they have lived it!
Thanks for the laughs!


Kat Stewart Identicon Icon Kat Stewart August 24, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Cute! Very cute!


M-R Charbonneau Identicon Icon M-R Charbonneau August 25, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Awesome! I love your articles and blog posts, Megan.


Deb Identicon Icon Deb August 28, 2011 at 8:30 pm

It’s hard not to snort & laugh at this!! Being the mother of three sons, I can SO relate!! Please!! Continue sharing your stories!!


Jane Identicon Icon Jane September 4, 2011 at 10:26 am

As the mother of 2 sons in their 30′s with no grandchildren yet, I can laugh at this story without checking around me in case the decendants are saving ideas to try later when I’m off guard. NOW i remember why I never taught my sons to sew.


PJ Identicon Icon PJ September 7, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Oh yes this sounds all too familiar especially since I have three sons and four grandsons all with endless energy and curiosity.


Grammie Casson Identicon Icon Grammie Casson September 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Hilarious! Ask me how I know about sewing with grandchildren! LOL


Nancy Identicon Icon Nancy September 30, 2011 at 6:36 am

LOL, loved your column, cracked me up. Hope there will be lots more.


sara Identicon Icon sara July 8, 2012 at 10:14 am

this is exactly how things happen at my house lol! my daughter (bri,8) and i are starting a quilt for her halfbrother but i was curious if she could handle it yet. i just stumbled across this article and i feel much better now! looks like im not the only one that has to back away and count to 10…..okay, 57 lol!


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