In conjunction with STOP the Violence, a national FCCLA program, students in Bonnie Pritcher’s health, safety and nutrition class at Effingham County High School have been involved in the Child Abuse Patchwork Project.
Incorporating child abuse education and hand sewing in the same lessons, the students made pillows to give to educators and victims of abuse.
“What began as an attempt to incorporate the almost-lost art of sewing into the technology-rich 21st-century classroom has grown and blossomed,” Pritcher said.
After being introduced to sewing terminology, students sketched a design for what would become the center square and focal point of their nine-square patchwork pillow top. In addition to designing the center square, the four muslin corners were also decorated with information related to child abuse.
Students chose the designs based on who the pillow would be given to — an educator or a child who has been abused. Pillows for educators have information on types of abuse to serve as reminders that teachers and school officials are mandated to report suspected child abuse. Pillows for children bear happier designs in an effort to provide comfort and hope.
After choosing design information and completing the artwork on their five muslin squares, students chose decorative fabric pieces for the remaining four. Before they began stitching, students learned to thread needles, knot thread and pin fabric pieces together — right sides together.
In what resembled a scene from a century ago — except for the cell phones that were being used to locate quotes or ideas to incorporate — the students sat, chatted and stitched. They often helped each other pin fabric, locate a design idea or thread a needle.
Students chose fabric for the back of their pillow. They sewed the back on, leaving an opening to turn the pillow right side out, stuffed the pillow and sewed the opening closed.
As a project wrap-up and to incorporate the writing element now required by the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, students wrote and typed essays on the project. The essays included information on child abuse, sewing, design choices and placement of their pillow. The school social worker has been contacted regarding placement of the pillows made for children.
“Through writing about this experience and sharing their pillows with others, the health, safety and nutrition students are sowing their sowing!” Pritcher said.