My school counselor colleague, Natasha, had the great idea of creating self-pillows as an activity during our groups for children who have a loved one in prison.
Self-pillows would also be great as an activity for grief and loss groups or self-esteem groups!
1. Pick fabric
The most important and first step of making a self-pillow is finding fabric! Choose a variety of patterns of fabric that you think your students would like. You can even ask students what some of their favorite things are so you have some fabrics that go along with their interests.
Also, consider the topic of the group. We chose fabrics that related to feelings associated with our group. Children experiencing the incarceration of a loved one, can feel like they do not want anyone to be around them and keep people out of their life. We found some fabric that has gates and dogs that says "Beware" and "Keep Out." A number of students chose to add this to their pillow.
Another example of a feeling associated with the group is feeling confused. The road sign pattern pictured in the pillow at the top is related to this feeling.
2. Cut the fabric
You will need 9 - 5" squares and 1 - 14" square for each student.
We allowed students to pick any combination of the fabric. Some students chose to pick 9 different squares for the one side and a solid color for the other side. Others chose their "favorite" pattern for the large, 14" square and 9 different patterns on the other side back.
3. Arrange the fabric
Arrange the fabric how students want it to be sewn.
I had students lay it they way they wanted it to be sewn and then I numbered each square with pencil on the back. This made it much easier for me to sew it together later!
4. Sew the squares together
To sew the pillows, you will need to sew all of the 9 - 5" squares together.
Sew the first row of squares together by placing the fronts of two fabric squares together and sewing down one side. Then sew the remaining piece to the other two squares.
Repeat this process until you have done this with all three rows.
5. Sew the rows together
Place row 1 patterned side down on row 2 and sew them together at the edge.
Then place row 3 patterned side down on row 2 and sew them together at the edge.
6. Sew the two sides together leaving an opening
Place the completed patch side pattern side down on the 14" square.
Sew the patch piece to the 14" piece making sure to leave an opening at the bottom. I made my opening the middle bottom square making sure to sew over the seams of the two adjoining squares.
7. Turn the the pillow pattern side outTurn the pillow pattern side out. You may need to use an eraser end of a pencil to make sure all of the corners are pushed out.
8. Stuff the pillow
This is the fun part! Students loved to stuff their pillows. We used poly fill to stuff our pillows to the desired fluffiness. We used the eraser end of pencils to get the stuffing in the corners,
9. Sew the pillow closed
Once the pillow is stuffed to the desired fluffiness, sew the pillow closed using a needle and thread.
Students sewed their own pillows closed, which made them have ownership and feel more connected to the making of their pillow.
Students love their self-pillows! I have had a number of students previously in my groups talk to me about their self-pillows this year.
One student told me that she tells all her secrets to her self-pillow. Many students told me they sleep with it at night.
Here are a few finished self-pillows from my group last year.
How will you use self-pillows in your work as a school counselor? Have you ever done a cool sewing or craft project with students? Comment below, tweet, contact Danielle, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!
Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources. Connect with Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, add her on LinkedIn or Google+, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.