Sew Together Grow Together
by Trixi Symonds
Meet the Author
Hey there, can you introduce yourself?
Well, I’m from Sydney Australia. I’ve got 4 (now grown-up) kids and a cat, Kwai Chang, who came to us one day from off the street and is one of the most intelligent fellows I know. I’ve been teaching craft and hand sewing to kids for over 20 years and I blog at colouredbuttons. To my loves, apart from hand sewing, you can add quilting, crocheting, cooking, walking along the Sydney coast and searching for “treasures” in op shops.
Tell us a bit about the book?
Sewing is one of those activities that seems to have its own little myth. According to this myth, sewing is something difficult to do and far too chaotic and complicated to give to kids. My experience has taught me the exact opposite: hand sewing is a simple, relaxing activity and kids just love it. Sew Together Grow Together tries to communicate this through its 20 original projects. The book is aimed at people with no idea of how to sew and covers basic “how to” techniques but it’s also designed to encourage people to make their own creative choices and it includes lots of comments to help people understand how they can adapt the projects to their own ends or how they can alter features to give a different feeling or look.
What was the inspiration behind it?
Over the years many parents of children in my workshops expressed surprise at how much their kids loved coming and at how impressed they were with the work they often continued to do by themselves at home. I was often asked if I could give a workshop for adults who had never sewn in their life. The workshops never came off but the idea stayed with me. I kept thinking: “Wouldn’t it be great to write a book that allowed parents with no hand sewing experience at all to share in their children’s sewing adventures”. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed that, in our modern world, we’ve forgotten how to enjoy some of the really simple pleasures of life, such as sitting around and sewing together. That’s basically how Sew Together Grow Together came about.
Which is your favourite project?
Favourite project…that’s a hard one. I love so many of them for different reasons. Floyd because his grumpy little face always melts my heart…Froggy because he reminds me of a toy frog I had when I was little…Strawberry Cushion because it’s so big that it looks like something from Alice in Wonderland and Gulla’allah because she’s just a true blue Aussie like me and… Raul because if I don’t mention Raul, well then I’m really going to be in the bad books with him!...and I’d better stop here or I’ll be listing all the projects in the book.
What is your craft space like?
Ha…I’m sure my husband would like to answer that one for you. It sort of tends to be the whole house. I like to work where the sun is so I travel from room to room and leave my mess along the way.
Have you always been creative?
I think that a lot of what we call “creativity” is actually learnt…people learn to do things like everyone else, and this is really useful…but sometimes it can be useful to learn how to break the standard patterns and do things in a surprising or unusual way. But I certainly have always liked making things.
When did you first start crafting?
I remember when I was little I loved making toilet roll people with cotton wool hair and making clothes for them out of coloured paper and I’m sure if I asked my mum, who doesn’t throw anything away, she’d manage to dig them up from somewhere.
Who are your crafty heroes?
No specific authors or heroes…lots of anonymous ones perhaps…I love it when people do something creative with public spaces whether it’s called “art” or “craft”…for example, I love the way Andy Goldsworthy transforms the English countryside by arranging stones or leaves or branches into the most surprisingly beautiful forms…and I love the way that people like Steve Duneier (aka YarnBomber) turn ordinary objects like buses, trees, rocks, service stations etc into something magical and rainbowlike by covering them with knitting or crocheting.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere really. I get a lot of inspiration from my morning walk along the coast from Bondi to Bronte…the flowering gums, the colourful clownish birds like our lorikeets, our sweet looking tree frogs and other native wildlife all find their way into my work. I also find inspiration in seeing through the eyes of other cultures: the Japanese have an incredible sensitivity in the use of materials and their sewing books and fabric designs are always interesting. American quilts of the 19th century are another favorite, especially the way women would collect plants and flowers on the wagon trails as they were “westering” and use them as motifs on their quilts so that the quilts became a kind of pictorial record of their journey across the frontier. Native American beading and bags are a definite source of inspiration…and of course, I’d have to mention the 20th century artist, Paul Klee, whose drawings and paintings have been a constant source of wonder and inspiration with their sophisticated but childlike lines and subtle colour combinations.
What's next for you?
At the moment I’m just having so much fun promoting my book. The book has been self published so I’m doing all the marketing which is keeping me very busy and I’m enjoying all the new opportunities that the book is opening up for me.