Sew What?

Rita Mae ("Rabbit") Pettway (American, b. 1941) Four Block Housetop Quilt, 2000 Cotton and synthetic materials 82 × 76 1/2 in. (208.28 × 194.31 cm) Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Angelo Buscemi, Valerie A. Childrey, MD, David and Maggi Gordon, Lucinda J. Gordon, Michele McKnight, and Barbara Brown Lee in honor of Dorothy Nelle Sanders M2003.85 Photo credit John R. Glembin

Quilts are rich with tradition and are often associated with particular communities or parts of the country, such as Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Quilts have a variety of established patterns, but their design accommodates the addition of personal elements so that quilters can create quilts that tell personal stories and which reflect their individual tastes.





Directions Take a few moments to review the quilts in the exhibition. What kinds of shapes, angles, and lines can the students find? Once they are familiar with looking at different patterns, try one of the following activities:

Shapes to Count On

Ask children, working in groups, to count the number of different shapes in one of the quilt patterns. Do the tallies match? Now count how many of each shape appears in the pattern. Again, do everyone’s tallies match?

Cubing It

Give pairs of children nine multilink cubes of three colors each. Encourage them to find out how many variations of a nine-patch square they can make with the cubes.

Class Patterns

Invite students to re-create a pattern with their classmates. For instance, boy, girl, boy, girl, or stripes, patterns, and solids of their clothing.

Designing a Quilt

An ideal way for children to integrate the concepts they have just learned and tap into their own creativity is by designing a class quilt. What materials would you include? What patterns or shapes? If your quilt were a shared story, what would it be?

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