Are you looking for a family friendly service project that will really make a difference to a child in need? These super easy Christmas quilts are a great way to involve the children in a creative service project that will make them smile.
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Family Friendly Service Projects
We have lots of young kiddos at our house and their skill sets are still emerging. However, they’re sweet troopers who are willing to work. So, we have several service projects we like to make a habit of every Christmas season.
We usually knit some hats and scarves on our knitting looms to donate to our library’s warm clothes drive. I’m a horrible knitter but these looms make it so easy that even I can do it. To learn more about knitting looms, click here.
For something less crafty, we gather up gently used items and donate them to our local thrift store. We start the process in the fall with our Martinmas celebrations and invite friends to donate with us.
Of course we make cookies and ornaments for friends and neighbors. It’s always so fun to see how a simple plate of cookies or a basket of bread can cheer someone up.
Our new favorite service project is book drives! We were able to take quite a haul of children’s books to our local shelter thanks to the generosity of our neighborhood!
It’s not much when you think of all the need in the world but every little bit, right?
Here’s another simple one, that only requires basic sewing skills. These Christmas quilts are especially for those of us who don’t really like to sew that much. The stitches are so basic that you can have the kids get involved. You can even turn it into a basic sewing lesson for those few stitches that require some skill. Believe me, this really is simple.
For more service project ideas, as well as crafts, recipes and holiday activity suggestions, be sure to check out our e-book, The 12 Days of Christmas! From all of us at Homestead Lady, Merry Christmas!
Christmas Quilts for Babies
This year, since we have a baby of our own, we’ve been thinking a lot about small children who might need a snug blankie. My oldest daughter learned to quilt recently, so she thought of doing a simple quilt that we could give to our local children’s shelter.
I was a little daunted at the prospect, but we managed to get it down to where I could handle it. I’m not big on sewing. (I have the basic skills but no real love for the process, sadly.)
In fact, this was really so easy that I’m betting anyone with basic sewing skills can manage it. We didn’t even use a machine. Following is what we did, our measurements and procedure. However, you can fiddle with this process to make it fancier, if you’re keen to.
FYI, this is a tied Christmas quilt – there’s absolutely no machine quilting at all. There are some basic hand stitches to do at the end, though.
To learn those basic stitches, visit my friend Angi from Schneider Peeps over at her SkillShare course. She teaches all her kids how to hand sew and she did us all a favor by recording some lessons. Click here to learn more.
Also from Angi is this short e-book on hand-made gifts – we used her tutorial to make dominoes one year. So fun and not hard at all!
Christmas Quilts Simplified Procedure
- Choose one yard of a quality, patterned flannel per Christmas quilt. Remember, these are baby quilts, so they’ll be small. We chose to do three quilts with only one of them in a Christmas pattern.
- Get a yard of a plain colored fleece for the back of each quilt.
- You will also need batting, which is the fluffy stuff that goes in the center to make the quilt soft. There are different kinds of batting t choose from. The polyester batting is the fluffy stuff. The cotton batting is thinner but just as cozy. You’ll need a piece of batting that’s just shy of a yard.
- Also gather a strong needle with a large eye, yarn in a color to match your fabrics, and scissors. For the very last part of the assembly, you’ll also need a regular sewing needle, thread in a color to match and some straight pins.
Lay Out Your Pieces
- Place one piece of fleece, pattern side down.
- Then place the batting on top of your fleece. You want your batting to be about an inch shorter all around than your quilt fabric.
- Layer the other piece of flannel on top, with the pattern up, facing you. If your kids are in charge of this part, make sure you double check your layers are where they should be before you move on to the next step.
- Smooth all your layers with a gentle motion. Begin from the center and smooth to the outer edges. Be sure to check the bottom layer of fabric for any wrinkles.
Tie Your Layers Together
- Starting from the center of your fabric layers, use safety pins (or quilting pins) to secure all three layers of fabric together.
- You pin your fabric about every six to eight inches, always moving from the center out to the edges. Be careful not to pin your carpet. Not that I’ve ever done that. If little hands are helping with this, stay vigilant. Quilting pins are curved to make this pinning easier but you still may need to help with fastening so you don’t have sad poking events. You wont want blood on your baby quilt.
- Take your needle with the large eye and the yarn. Thread the yarn through the needle, leaving yourself really long tail with which to stitch. How long is a matter of choice. How long before your child starts tying herself in knots? The space between stitches will be 6-8 inches. So, the longer your tail, the fewer times you have to thread that needle. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to thread yarn on a needle.
- Starting from the center again, make a stitch about every six to eight inches, about where your pins are placed. Stitch in a basic grid pattern. If you’re the type that likes to, you can measure the distance between stitches with a ruler or fabric measuring tape. Your grid will look awesome and perfect. If you’re like me, the idea of measuring your stitch pattern makes you want to pull your lower lip over your head and swallow it. Don’t do that; just wing it. The baby won’t care either way.
What These Stitches Do
The yarn stiches will secure your layers of fabric together, but they also take the place of quilting/top stitching. Top stitching is what makes a quilt a quilt, and not a layered blanket. This is a very simple version of that intricate top stitching you see in quilts. If one of your children is in charge of making these stitches, it should be an older child with strong hands.
Remember not to freak if your child doesn’t do this perfectly. The baby who receives this quilt will barf on it, love it and make it their own. They won’t mind a few misplaced stitches. If a job need to be redone, redo it. Always encourage, though and be happy to be working together.
Using sharp scissors, cut the yarn in between your stitches. Make the cut at least two inches away from your stitch so that you have length enough to tie and square knot. Tie a square knots, until all your yarn pieces are tied together. You just “top-stitched” or tied your Christmas quilt. This kind of quilt is officially called a tied quilt.
They’re my favorite because they’re easy.
Finishing the Edges – Binding
Now comes the only annoying part and that’s binding, or finishing off the edges so that they’re covered and smooth. I never like binding, no mater what the project is.
You can fiddle with cutting binding from your decorative fabric and sewing it on. You can learn to do that here.
I didn’t want to bother with that because it was too much sewing. Instead, I folded my fabric to make a smooth edge, as follows:
- Match the edges of the two flannel pieces.
- Fold them about 1/4 inch in, towards the back fabric.
- Fold one more time, making a nice, clean edge.
- Pin that folded edge down to the back of your Christmas quilt.
- Whip-stitch down the edge. I like the whip-stitch as a finishing stitch because it flows across the fabric, skipping down the grain. It gets stuff done quickly.
- Fiddle with the corners to make them neat. You can fold them diagonally, or fold them straight across. Whatever. Play around with what you think looks best.
- The kids do most of these steps. They can pin down the binding, learn a whipstitch and/or double check that everything is tied off before you launder the blanket.
Christmas Quilts for Kids by Kids
These Christmas quilts for babies are poofy and sweet, and we can’t wait to donate them. The best part was that there was something all the kids could do from cutting to pinning to tying. Even the baby was able to crawl all over stuff and give it her drooling approval. Yeah, I’ll be washing these before we donate them.
We like to think of sweet babies being wrapped up in the not-fancy-but-made-with-love blankets. For a few more ideas on various ways you can serve your community, even the world, please visit this link from Schneider Peeps.
What about your family? Any service traditions you’d like to share? I’d love some inspiration for future projects…
For more seasonal project inspiration, be sure to check out my friend Kathie’s book below – the kids and I LOVE this one!
Cover graphic found here at Graphics Fairy.