An Interview with Trixi Symonds of Coloured Buttons

Trixi Symonds is the voice behind Coloured Buttons and Sew Together Grow Together.  From Sydney, Australia, Trixi has been sewing and creating with kids for more than 20 years.  As soon as we connected via Instagram, I knew Trixi was a kindred spirit.  She designs fun and colorful kids's sewing projects and is full of inspiration.  

Last week, Trixi interviewed me, and I thought it would be fun to turn the tables on her.  

The most popular sewing project you make with kids?

They love any project that has a baby…projects like Star Mum and Bub or Koala and her baby are always hits…especially with girls but the boys really get into them too…and if they make a project without a baby they often want to make a smaller baby version of it before they go home…they also (especially the boys) love designing their own monsters/aliens and projects like pillows where they can go crazy adding all sorts of odds and ends as decorative features.

One piece of advice you’d give to parents who want to teach their kids to sew?

I think the most important thing for parents to do is to just step back and let their kids do everything …let them choose the project, the fabrics, the colors of the thread, the way they want to adapt the design … let them make mistakes and sew with their own wonky stitches …and never do the sewing for them …just let them have fun and lap up the whole experience …I’m always struck by how proud kids are to have made something all by themselves.

Why should kids learn to sew?

I think it just gives them so much …it’s a low tech low cost really fun activity that kids can take and do wherever they are …I’ve had kids who are lagging behind at school come to my workshops …hand sewing really opens their eyes to their own potential …it’s something they can see their progress in over a short time and shows them they can really succeed at a skill that is not only very useful but also creative …and it’s something that kids can enjoy and express themselves through for the rest of their lives.

How did you get into teaching kids sewing?

I was originally trained as a primary school teacher and started giving after-school craft classes to kids about 20 years ago …then I began quilting and fell in love with hand sewing …I really loved everything about it …so I began designing hand sewing projects for my young craft students and discovered two things: (1) kids love hand sewing …they were just so excited to do the projects and (2) they weren’t getting this anywhere else …after that my fate was sealed …my craft classes became hand sewing classes for kids.

What things have surprised you in teaching kids to sew?

The biggest surprise by far was learning how amazingly well little kids can sew …my youngest daughter was just three years old when I finally caved in to her constant pleading to join in a class and sew one of the projects with the “big kids” …but ”surprised” is probably too mild a word for my reaction …I was really floored by the fact she could do it at all …and of course, but I’ve said this before, I’m always surprised at how much they love sewing.

Why do you like sewing?

It’s hand sewing I really love … I like making things, I have since I was little …and I love the feel of the fabric …and the possibilities you have with using fabrics …I especially love using old fabrics, either because I like the old fashioned colors and designs or because I like recycling old fabrics from things like my kids’ clothing that gives your work this extra depth and meaning as it stirs up all these memories associated with the fabrics history.

Best sewing experience?

There was this one bubbly really lovely girl whose mum brought her to my classes because she thought hand sewing might help her …her daughter had difficulties at school and especially poor manual skills …at first she just couldn’t get her stitches on the line but she improved really quickly …I just remember how happy she was with herself…and she kept coming to classes and workshops for years.

Worst sewing experience?

Mrs. Penglas’ sewing class in primary school …we had to make bloomers …I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever heard of “bloomers” or still knows what they are …but I remember I was always in trouble and being shouted at.

Favorite sewing experience?

When parents come to pick up their kids and look at their work and say “I can’t believe my child made that!”

You can find Trixi's adorable koala project here and purchase her wonderful book Sew Together Grown Together on Etsy and Amazon.  I can't wait to try out some of these clever projects with kids!

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