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James Clemens students sew, cut and design in quilt challenge

Students in Family and Consumer Science at James Clemens High School show their designs for the National Quilt Block Schoolhouse Challenge. (CONTRIBUTED)
Students in Family and Consumer Science at James Clemens High School show their designs for the National Quilt Block Schoolhouse Challenge. (CONTRIBUTED)
Students used an under-the-sea design for this quilt block with an octopus, oyster with a pearl, a manta ray and sea turtle. (CONTRIBUTED)
Students used an under-the-sea design for this quilt block with an octopus, oyster with a pearl, a manta ray and sea turtle. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – The National Quilt Block Schoolhouse Challenge has demanded creativity and imagination from students in Family and Consumer Science (FACS at James Clemens High School.

FACS teacher Sherri Shamwell entered her students in the challenge. “I felt it would be a great assessment tool for their sewing unit and a great opportunity to work collaboratively with their peers,” Shamwell said.

In groups of three, students worked to create a 16-by-16 inch quilt block that had to incorporate three fabrics.

Shamwell learned about the challenge while reading a magazine during a visit with her daughter in Louisville, Ky. The National Quilt Museum is located in Paducah, Ky.

Moda Fabrics sponsors the event and donates three fabrics. “Each package with the three required fabrics cost $3; I used my own money to purchase them,” Shamwell said. “I was allowed to purchase 10 packets.”

James Clemens students received the exact same three fabrics but were allowed to incorporate other swatches, too. “Most of them just used scraps from my classroom or things I brought from home,” Shamwell said.

The class discussed basic design principles that they apply to their quilt blocks. The student teams created one 16-by-16 inch block, which didn’t require actual quilting.

Students Mary, Deja and Destiny said the challenge “helped us with useful life lessons.” The class had to sew both by hand stitching and with a machine, iron properly, use a rotary cutter correctly and find creative uses for scrap fabric.

“Our block reinforced our sewing skills, as well as our sewing knowledge,” the girls said. “One technique used is the French knot, which we used as the door knobs and the elf’s eyes (in their Christmas block). Another technique we used was cutting out small pieces of fabric and hand-stitching them.”

When submitting their sewn blocks, students had to answer questions: “How long did it take? Did making this block connect with anything you are studying in this class? What did you learn from making the block?”

For more information, visit NationalQuiltMuseum.org.

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