GivingTuesday 2021 Partner: Social Justice Sewing Academy

NOV 29, 2021
Five people stand at a white table looking at fabric selections in a fabric shop. The person on the left is looking at the top fabric in a stack of eight fabrics. The next two people are looking at a stack of the different fabrics. The fourth person is looking at the top fabric in a stack of two different fabrics. The last person is looking at the camera.

Workshop participants shop for fabric. SJSA founder Sara Trail is the second person from the right.

GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a “global generosity movement” encouraging people to do good. It is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. 

In 2020, Spoonflower gave 10% of its proceeds to three different nonprofit organizations, Durham Free Lunch, Raleigh City Farm and Social Justice Sewing Academy.

This year, to maximize our impact, 10% of our GivingTuesday proceeds will be donated solely to the Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSA). This will help us amplify our giving more effectively.

What is the Social Justice Sewing Academy? 

The Social Justice Sewing Academy was founded in 2017 by Sara Trail, and it empowers youth to create change and find their creative voice through making quilt blocks.

In 2020, SJSA started a six-month virtual Business Incubator to help develop and support young entrepreneurs. They also create memorial quilts for individuals lost to violence through volunteer participation as well as related activist art banners for their Remembrance Project.

To find out how you can help them further their mission, SJSA’s website includes a round up of all the ways you can volunteer with the organization.

The organization runs a variety of workshops throughout the year all over the country, working with local groups in person as well as virtually.


How Much of My Spoonflower GivingTuesday Purchase Goes To SJSA?

This year on GivingTuesday, November 30, 10% of your Spoonflower purchase will go toward helping SJSA empower more youth with their work, teaching young adults to make quilt blocks that share their unique stories.

SJSA Workshop Participant Quilt Block Examples

A quilt block with a light blue background in the top-third to represent sky and a navy background in the bottom two-thirds to represent the ground. Starting in the top right of the design, a brown forearm is extending toward the middle of the block. About an inch past where the navy section starts, the hand turns to white with outlines of bones in turquoise thread. In the top lefthand corner of the block, “To be African American” is stitched in brown thread. At the top of the navy section, “is to be African without memory and to be American without privilege” is stitched in mostly brown thread, except for “African,” which is stitched in mostly green with a little bit of red and “American,” which is stitched in blue. The full quote all together reads "To be African American is to be African without memory and to be American without privilege."
A quilt block with a large orange butterfly with four differently patterned fabrics making up its body. The top left of the butterfly is orange with small red flowers growing on black stems. The bottom right of the butterfly is orange with wavy yellow lines. The top right of the butterly is orange with batik lines outlined in dark orange. The bottom half of the butterly is a light maroon and yellow plaid. The butterfly’s body and attenae are dark brown. Small flowers, a white daisy and tall purple and blue stems, are on each side of the butterfly. Stitched underneath the butterfly in blue is “migration Beautiful.”
A quilt block with a white background has a person standing looking at two brown doors in front of them. The person is an outline of the back of their head and the back of their shoulders and the outline is made out of a blue and purple tie-dyed like fabric with both colors oozing and collding throughout the fabric. Leading up to the two doors is a green-and-white checkered floor. On the door on the left is a white drawing of a person wearing pants. On the door on the right is a white drawing of a person wearing a skirt. Above the two doors “TRANS RIGHTS = HUMAN RIGHTS” is spelled out in blue and purple fabric and in all capital letters.
A quilt block with a light brown background and two rows of small quilted images. On the top row are four faceless figures, one with bright blue shirt, pants and face and a shiny blue headscarf. One figure is turquoise from head to toe, with a gold dot where the person’s face would be and a gold dot on the center of their chest. The third figure has an all white head, they are wearing clothes with thick stripes in the following colors, green, blue, purple and magenta. The last figure in the row has a light brown and dark brown checkered body and face. They are wearing a magenta hat on their head. To their right is a large red heart made out of fabric that has rows of small white hearts on it. On the bottom row, there is a sideways V, with the open side pointing to the left and the closed side pointing to the right, in the same red fabric with small red hearts. A black machine gun is pointing to the right and is to the right of the sideways V.
A quilt block with a gray sign at the top with the phrase “NO MEANS NO!” on it in all red capital letters. The person holding it has brown skin and hair and is wearing a blue headband and pink glasses in the shape of hearts. They are weraring a bright orange tank top with small white dots. To the left of this person three people are walking with them, one person has dark brown skin, one has pink skin and one has cocoa skin. They are each wearing blue shirts made out of different fabrics with small floral designs.
A quilt block with an orange fabric background. The phrase “WATER is finite” is written in blue fabric on the block. The word “water" is in all capital letters and light blue fabric and is at the top of the block. In the middle of the block is the word “is” in medium blue with a blue and white fish to the left of it and the neck and shoulders of a person with brown skin, white teeth and red lips and a blue tear coming out of their left eye to the right. The word “finite” is in dark blue fabric near the bottom of the block. Rippled blue fabric, to represent water, runs across the bottom of the block.

What Are SJSA Donations Used For?

  • $12 = buys one bottle of basting glue
    • usually at least 10-15 bottles of basting glue are accessible to participants during workshops
  • $15 = buys one yard of solid cotton fabric to be used in workshops
    • one workshop can use up to 10-15 yards of fabric
  • $75 = prints the SJSA curriculum used in longer workshops 
    • the curricula are referenced by participants during the workshop
  • $150 = buys food for participants of longer workshops
    • SJSA aims to provide food for youth participants
  • $200-300 = buys fabric to combine 20 blocks into a full quilt
    • this lets workshop participants show their work as a group
  • $200-500 = pays long-arm quilters to create a full quilt
    • SJSA hires professional quilters to do this work
  • $2,000 = pays for completed quilts to be sent to exhibits and community events
    • this is the minimum cost due to the weight and insurance that is added to ensure safe arrival


Community Quilt Examples

A full size quilt is on display in front a low rock wall with a grassy field behind it. There are 19 quilt blocks on the quilt, which has a gray background at the top and a brown background at the bottom. The blocks in the quilt cover a range of social justice issues from gay rights to ending gun violence to environmental issues to ending genital mutilation and more.
A full size quilt is on display. The 19 blocks in the quilt, which has a burgundy background, cover many social justice issues including global warming, protecting Black youth, gay pride and more.

Want to learn more about the Social Justice Sewing Academy?

Read our interview with SJSA founder Sara Trail

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