In 2018, when I read that CMA was celebrating 30 years of art-making with a year-long CIVICKIDS program, I knew that Sew A Softie should get involved!
I started Sew a Softie in 2016 as an initiative to teach a new digital-age generation the simplicity and joy of sewing. “Simplicity” meant designing simple creative softies that anyone, especially children, can make, and “joy” meant helping people discover how sewing develops creativity, how it nurtures a child’s independence, self-confidence, and self-esteem, and how sewing has helped generate a deep sense of community throughout time.
I saw that CMA’s theme for February was kindness and caring and suggested that Sew a Softie could partner with them by organizing a Global Kids’ Sewing Party where children from around the world would sew softies together and gift them to someone within their community. I saw this as just another way in which sewing nurtures children’s independence by showing them they they don’t have to wait until they’re adults to do something for their community. The Global Kids’ Sewing Party seemed like a perfect way to raise children’s awareness that they belong to a community and that “community” means people caring about each other.
Photo by Alicia Johnson
The appeal of the Sew a Softie Global Kid’s Sewing Party exceeded my expectations. Within a few short weeks, over 50 groups had signed up, and by the end of February, 140 groups had registered in 24 countries and thousands of children had sewn softies and given them to institutions or individuals in their communities. There was so much energy and momentum throughout February that the Global Party was never going to halt abruptly just because February ran out of days. The participants’ enthusiasm to gift their softies to someone in their community was palpable and the original ways in which they did this was really impressive and inspiring.
I loved the way Amber at figmentcreative widened the idea of community to include local animals — she got her students to make softies that they could then choose to give to their cat or to a cat shelter. Fish Museum and Circus is another cat lover — she made little mice softies with her daughter’s scout group and also gifted them to a cat shelter. Amie of Sewing School also came up with a really lovely idea — she got her after-school sewing club to sew a magnetized softie for their school teachers. When the teachers arrived at school the next morning, they found colorful softies sticking to their whiteboards with notes of thanks and appreciation from their students.
Beckenham Primary School, Australia
Katie at Art Teacher Life organized her Year 5 students to work with the Year K students to design a softie. The Year 5 students helped the little ones draw their softie, color it in, and then made their drawing into a real-life softie. Nelandnora’s daughter and friend sewed softie hearts which their Girl Scout group deposited all over their town for people to find. Kylie from Teaching Tots Things was one of the more humorous stories — in her last minute rush to participate in the Global Kids’ Sewing Party, she improvised by taking stuffing from the couch pillow to use in her softie. When her husband looked on in disbelief she told him, “not to worry, it isn’t much, you won’t really notice.”
We had museums, libraries, schools, scout groups, sewing clubs and sewing studios as well as families join in, and they all came up with great ideas and interesting ways to share their softies with their communities!
Ypsilanti International Elementary School, United States
I can’t wait till next February. I had so many people and groups contact me to ask if there would be another Global Party that I’ve made Sew a Softie’s Global Kids’ Sewing Party an annual event. If you think you might like to join in you can register here for email updates.
Trixi Symonds is the founder of Sew A Softie, an Australian based initiative to ignite a love of sewing in children around the world. For easy to sew softie projects, visit Trixi’s blog Coloured Buttons.
Top image: Omagh Integrated Primary School, Ireland
CIVICKIDS is sponsored by Google.