KEARNEY — First graders at Kenwood Elementary were all smiles Wednesday when Kearney High School students stopped by with gifts.

These presents were not ordinary toys, though. Each was wholly unique.

The students had taken pictures the first graders drew earlier this school year and turned them into fabric dolls, trying their best to match the shapes, colors and designs the kids created.

“Mine looks just like it,” one of the students exclaimed after the dolls were delivered Wednesday.

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Though colorful, crazy and at times hard to interpret, the students in Carol Kreutzer’s clothing and textiles class at KHS all found a way to hand-stitch together a soft, stuffed version of the drawings.

“We’ve been doing the felt dolls for a couple of classes, but this time I wanted to pass them along to someone else,” Kreutzer explained.

Kreutzer is friends with Kenwood first-grade teacher Barb Thompson, so she asked that Thompson’s students draw the dolls.

The first graders’ creativity exploded on the page, many decorating their dolls with rainbows and ambiguous facial features.

“If we were to do it with older kids, they would have done it more plain and more basic,” junior Kennedy Cobb theorized.

Some of the drawings even left the sewing students puzzled over what the first-grader was aiming to draw. A few of the elementary students drew full-color backgrounds with their drawing, leaving the high schoolers the task of figuring out what was supposed to be a part of the doll, and what was a part of the setting.

“We were trying to figure out if it was the sky, or what,” Cobb described.

The complications meant some students’ tasks were easier than others, but the entire project took about two weeks’ worth of sewing, as the project was designed to give students the chance to practice hand-stitching. Each doll had to include at least three types of stitches: a blanket stitch, back stitch and overcast.

Because of some of the drawings’ complexities, some students ended up using other stitches, as well. Cobb ended up basically creating her own type of stitch so that she could get the hair on her doll just right.

All the work was worth it, though, when the teens delivered the dolls to the kids at Kenwood.

“I was nervous at first. I thought, ‘Oh, gosh, I hope she likes it,” Cobb said. “It was so cool to see their faces when we showed them how their drawings came to life.”

Each student in Thompson’s class was present that day, so each high schooler got to see their younger counterpart’s reaction to the doll. They all spent several minutes admiring, hugging and playing with his or her doll after receiving it.

Kreutzer said she has another clothing and textiles class coming up next semester, and when she asked if they should do the project for the next class, several first graders shouted, “Do it again!”


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