Monday, May 11, 2009

Night At The Museum History Unit - Civil War: Quilt Making

We finished with the little characters of the diorama room by making a trip to the local county museum this weekend. They had some very nice dioramas, which made good fodder for the imagination. Then we popped over to the library and picked up a couple of books on Jedediah Smith.

He died well before the building of the transcontinental railroad, and so is probably not the diminutive Jedediah depicted in the film. He is, however, an interesting character, so we decided to include him briefly in our unit as well.
With the little guys out of the way, we were ready to turn to the "weird faceless puppet people" of our imaginary museum's Civil War display. There are many unit studies out their built entirely around the Civil War, and there are a lot of interesting videos and books on the subject. We decided to just hit a few high-lights.

First of all, we watched an animated overview of the war at This is a subscription website, but it does offer a free trial, and is certainly worth checking out. Then we scanned the web a bit, picking out interesting facts about life during the war.

I showed the children designs for cot quilts, made by women during the war, to be used in the field hospitals for wounded soldiers. Then I suggested the children might like to try their hands at quilt making (teddy bear sized, of course). My oldest daughter took up the challenge, and began rummaging through the bag of fabric scraps left over after her grandparent's visit and sewing lessons.

I cut out a square cardboard block pattern for her, and she pretty much took it from there. She cut twelve squares, and sewed them together into strips of three squares each.

Then, after I pressed open the seams for her, she sewed the strips together to form her quilt top.

She cut a piece of fabric the same size as the top, to be used for the quilt back, and a similar sized piece out of a ripped up old blanket, to use for batting.

She placed the back piece, right side down, topped by the batting, and the quilt top, right side up.

After a quick call to my mother for further instructions (I've never actually made a quilt - and really had no idea beyond the basic theory, of what we were doing), she added edge strips around the top. Then she was ready to pin the quilt together, and begin tying it (we opted for tying rather than quilting, because Grandma thought it was better for beginners).

The last step is to fold the top edge strips under, and whip stitch them to the back. I started to demonstrate this to my daughter, but she declared she was too tired to go on, and was going to go play a video game instead. I tried appealing to her sense of duty, reminding her that there was a wounded teddy bear soldier laying tired and cold on his cot waiting for her blanket. In typical ten year old fashion, she rolled her eyes, and informed me this not the Civil War, and teddy bears don't get cold - and then she went off to play.

Fiddle-dee-dee, we'll think about it tomorrow.

It's great to be a homeschooler!

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