we help adults teach art to kids

Quilt Projects for School Auctions

I received a question today that might be relevant to many of you…

Dear Patty,

First, thank you so much for your inspirational blog. I

have a love and passion for experiencing art with 4 and 5 year olds

and have the honor of teaching twice a week at my daughters school.

Your website has been a blessing to me and we have had lots of fun

creating some of your ideas. I have a bit of a challenge ahead of me.

Our school is hosting a silent auction fundraiser and they have asked

me to make two quilts for the auction. I have two kits from Oriental

Trading Co that include 24 white cotton squares each. Do you have any

suggestions? I am hesitant to use fabric markers and paint because of

the expense of those materials.

Thanks so much, Angie Topliss

Hi Angie,

Many of us are in the throws of creating projects of some form or another to raffle, sell or auction off. Quilts tend to be popular with anyone who has some sewing experience. Before you embark on a quilt project, think about the scale of the school auction. It doesn’t make sense to put alot of time and effort into a quilt if it is only going to sell for $50. If you feel your school auction might fit into that category,  and you still want to make a quilt, then the cheapest way is by using fabric paint or markers. Both are fairly inexpensive. If fabric markers are too expensive (like you indicated in your letter) try Sharpie Brand waterproof permanent markers. Here’s the trick: Pick a theme for the quilt (flowers, or alphabet, portraits, etc) and keep color choices to a minimum. Use monochromatic colors such as blue, turquoise and periwinkle. Limiting colors will eliminate the randomness that is often seen with these types of quilts.

You could also use finger art. Dip children’s fingers in paint and place fingerprint on fabric. There are lots of books out there devoted to fingerprint art, but check out this site. This might be a good choice for the age you are working with. Remember, children can add the fingerprints, but parents can finish up the drawing by adding tiny details in Sharpie markers such as name, bug leg’s, etc.

Another great idea for a quilt, is to do a Kandinsky inspired quilt much like this lesson. Gather colorful scraps of fabric and buy Heat ‘N Bond. Apply Heat ‘N Bond to the fabric and give each child three or four small squares. They can draw circles of varying size. Parents can cut circles and iron on top of one another to create a concentric circle. Iron on the circle to the white fabric square. This is the technique I used on the Garden Quilt (no sewing…all Heat N Bond!)

Take this garden quilt for example. The kinders drew a vegetable on a piece of paper. Some kids drew big, others small. By enlarging and reducing the drawings on a photocopier, each child’s image fit better on the quilt. Take Tate’s quilt square (right) for example, he drew one carrot, but I copied it 3 times. He drew two flowers but both were smaller than the carrot. I enlarged both flowers so the proportions were the same. The drawings become the patterns for colored fabrics. Cool, huh?

With a little manipulation, each child’s art is captured effectively.

After the drawing and perhaps fabric selection, the kid’s job is done. Now it’s all up to the parents. Use envelopes to organize each child’s patterns/fabrics. Sew separate blocks for each child. Tate’s block is made up of three fabrics: blue=sky, green=grass and brown=soil. The three parts are sewn together and the carrots and flowers are ironed on.

Students used their paper grid to help plan the real thing.

The Fish Quilt is best for older kids. When my son was in second grade, we created fish using a grid. Each child received a grid marked with 2″ x 2″ squares. Using colored paper, they used one color for a fish and another color for a background. Once the design was determined, they substituted fabric.  I brought my sewing machine into class and helped each child piece their square together. This could be done by a parent though.

I hope this helps anyone planning a quilt for your school auction.

Second grade students had fun planning the final design of the quilt.


  1. Thank you Patty! We have started a Kandinsky project and I LOVE your garden quilt idea. I will be sure to let you know the results. (It may be this summer by the time I get around to it….Ha!) I appreciate your response so much, take care, Angie


    February 10, 2011

    • Fantastic! Send a picture along when you finish!


      February 12, 2011

  2. Angie and Patty have you ever tried photo quilts- There is special paper which can be printed on a bubble jet printer A4 size . Scan in student work and print directly onto the fabric. It is available from quilting suppliers.
    Cheryl H

    Cheryl Hancock

    August 1, 2011

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