In the FIFTY story, “California: Following Your Friends”, it is the spring of 1942, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Ralph Lazo’s Japanese-American friends are told to leave their Los Angeles homes and move to an internment camp for the duration of the war. Ralph, who is Mexican-American, decides to protest the policy by joining the Manzanar camp to remain with his friends. There he not only sees the uncomfortable conditions of the camp, but he meets some incredible people, too.
One line of this story particularly sticks out for me. As Ralph is leaving his parents to head to the camp, he worries that his protest will not make much difference; nonetheless, he concludes, “It was something that he could do.”
I think it's easy to feel that way when you're faced with injustice — small and scared and like nothing you can do will matter. But there is power in doing something, even if it's a small thing. And if you do a small thing and I do a small thing and everyone else does a small thing...well, that adds up to something big faster than you might think.
This week's craft — a set of embroidered protest buttons — is definitely a small thing, but it's a statement nonetheless. They're easy and inexpensive to make, even if you're not a sewing pro. Pinned to your jacket or your bag, these little patches will tell the world what you stand up for, and perhaps even inspire others to solidarity or bravery. Make up a small batch for yourself, or make up a dozen and share them with friends.
Embroidered Protest Buttons
1 sheet white felt
Black, fine-point Sharpie
Black embroidery floss
A few sheets of colored felt
Colored embroidery floss (to match or contrast with the colored felt)
Safety pins (1 for each button)
Beginning with the white felt, use the Sharpie to write as many slogans as you want buttons. For this project, it's best to keep your sayings short and your lettering simple. (While you might be tempted to go ahead and cut the slogans apart at this point, wait. The embroidery is much easier with the larger piece of felt to hold onto.)
Next, cut a piece of black embroidery floss about the length of your forearm. Divide the floss so that you're working with three strands, then use it to thread your embroidery needle. Trace the letters with the embroidery floss.
Now, cut the buttons into shapes, being careful to leave at least a ¼ inch border around your lettering.
Put the white felt on top of the colored felt, and cut the colored felt about ¼ inch larger than the white felt.
Then, thread the embroidery needle with three strands of the colored floss, and use the floss to neatly stitch the white felt on top of the colored felt.
Lastly, attach a safety pin to the back of each button. Wear these on your shirt, on your backpack, or wherever else you might need to make a statement.
If you liked this tutorial, here are others you might enjoy:
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.