Middle Schoolers Get Creative with Pillows

Draw. Pin. Stitch. Stuff. Fluff.

For sixth-grade Family and Consumer Science students at George Fischer Middle School, those five simple steps sum up a recent pillow project as part of a class sewing unit.

Group of students show off their completed pillows

Students first created a replica of the school district logo using colored felt sewn on one side of the pillow. Then they had the opportunity to flex their creativity by creating a unique design for the other side. The directive: create a design using five of their favorite things and one specific Carmel 6C core value that they believed related to them.

“They had to pick five positive qualities about themselves to teach them about self-esteem,” said teacher Alice Holzmann.

Student Claryn Pierre designed a pillow that highlighted her uniqueness as a person, and she chose creativity as her Carmel 6C to highlight on her pillow. Her design was an ode to all her favorite things – YouTube, Minecraft, Harry Potter, Legos, ice cream and eyes.

“I don’t know why, but I have an interest in drawing eyes when I am bored, so I decided to draw one on my pillow.”

Student Isabella Mendez-Rodriguez created her pillow as a gift to her mother.

"I used the word ‘kind’ on my pillow because my mother is the kindest person I have ever met, and I put all of her favorite colors on it,” she said while describing the flowers she also drew on the pillow. “For the stitching, I tried to do really tight stitches so it could stay together better.”

According to teacher Marie Taylor, many students made their pillows with mother-figures in mind in celebration of Mother’s Day last month.

The students also had the opportunity to create mini pillows if they completed their large pillow project with time in class, or at home, to spare.

“After we are done with our pillows, we can make these mini pillows for ourselves or other people,” said student Jelina Biju, who planned to gift her mini pillow to her mother or her sister.

“After making our design, we have to put both fabric pieces together and pin them,” she explained. “Then we sew them but leave a little area open to put the stuffing in. After that, we sew it closed and we are done with the pillow.”

Student Angel Robles designed her mini pillow to act as a communication device to share her feelings. Her two-sided design reflected different images she thought represented “happy” and “upset.” Communication is also another Carmel 6C core value that the district works to instill in students.

“I’m making my pillow for myself, to help explain to my mom when I am upset or happy,” she said. “I do not normally communicate with her about my feelings, so I am trying to find another way. I think this will be a way to tell her how I feel.”

“I want to hang it on the outside of my door so I can flip it depending on how I feel.”

The project was a capstone to the unit, which covered sewing safety and vocabulary and the use of running stitch. Students worked in small groups at their own pace which provided a collaborative environment to ask questions, learn new skills and get feedback from their peers as well as teachers.