Fabric and fibre for Third Class and Fourth Class
Look at and examine fabric and fibre
Examine some fabric and fibre using magnifying glass or a microscope if one is available to further explore the methods of construction. Children are encouraged to pull apart hessian, netting of all types, string bags and lace curtains to see how they are made
integrate your work with work in the strand of MATERIALS in the science area
Visit show houses, furniture shops, craft centres, or local galleries as applicable
museums and local arts centres and craftspeople could be accessed as centres of excellence
visits can be made to department stores and shops.
magazines can be explored for examples of interior design’s use of fabric and fibre.
property supplements from newspapers are a good source for investigating interiors.
Discuss the different types of fibres
Animal fibres - wool, hair, silk,
Vegetable fibres - cotton, flax, jute, raffia,
Mineral fibres - glass, metallic yarns, plastics
If working in a rural area – perhaps you might collect some sheep’s wool and experiment with carding and spinning.
Can you name some of the different types of fabrics you can buy?
Can you give me the names of fibres?
Can you suggest why are fabrics made in different ways?
Are handmade fabrics superior to machine-made ones? Discuss. What about the cost?
Look at labels on your clothing. Can you make a list of the types of fabrics / fibres that have been used?
Initiate a class discussion on the theme of clothes designed for different purposes:
• special occasions
• sports clothes
• party gear
• dress-up, etc.
This is an area that presents wonderful opportunities for inter-cultural study.
Ask the class to bring in examples of clothes that reflect this – different items of clothing e.g. saris, kilts, sarongs, etc. and items of printed clothing that show motifs based on designs from other cultures
Children are encouraged to make collections of old buttons, belts, ribbons, hair bobbins, wooden, plastic or glass beads, braid, sequins, bells, clothes labels, and found objects such as bone, twigs, feathers, shells, which could be used later to decorate or enhance a piece of fabric or a work in fibre.
The children could create or invent pieces quickly, in order that they can experiment and practice previously learned techniques. It is important that value is placed on these resulting inventive creations, as the final product is not always the priority. All results are given pride of place in the child’s visual arts portfolio. In this way, children can revisit a piece of work and add additional changes to the surface of the fabric
continue to explore the creative possibilities of inventing stitches and combining stitchery with other methods of changing the surface of a piece of fabric - parts can be attached and given a three-dimensional effect by the appliqué method and at this stage stitches like, satin or chain may be introduced if the need arises.
continue to explore simple fabric collage - greater variety of material can be selected at this stage - according to colour, texture, tone, shape and construction
continue to explore simple tie and dye activities - children can be encouraged to pleat and wrap sections of their piece to create different patterns - pebbles or small coins can be tied into the fabric for greater variety - the pattern can be added to using inventive stitchery or collage methods, once the dyeing process is completed.
continue drawing and painting on a variety of fabrics - fabric may be painted using a variety of different paints and markers, once it is not intended to wash the fabric after completion – commercially made fabric crayons and fabric paints are available for use when the fabric is going to be machine washed with the regular laundry - as is the case when, for example, painting a tee-shirt.
continue activities in printing onto fabrics. Simple relief blocks can be created by the children to transfer the pattern from the block onto a piece of fabric. The simplest of these would be made from materials such as sponge. These are inked up and applied by hand to the surface of the fabric to be printed. If the finished piece is likely to be washed, care has to be taken to ensure that the ink is heat sealed to make it fast, so ensuring it will not run when washed. Follow the instruction on the fabric paint pot carefully.
Introduce the concept of creating a fabric, by inviting the children to examine and explore how the clothes, which they are wearing at that moment are made. Usually skirts, trousers and shirts or tops will be of a woven fabric, as will tracksuits, jackets and coats.
Demonstrate the weaving process
Have ten children stand in a line with the first child holding one end of the rope. Place the rope in front of the first child, behind the next, in front of the next and continue in this way to the end. Go back alternating front to back to illustrate the weaving process. This is best done outdoors or in the hall space.
Discuss the tradition of weaving
Weaving is seen as one of the first crafts developed by people everywhere. Most civilizations have preserved examples of weaving. The basis of weaving – the under over rhythmic movement, is universal in its application. The basic design of the loom has not changed much throughout history. Make the connection that other animals like birds and insects also weave e.g. the spider and the weaverbird. Note the tradition of weaving in Ireland, especially along the west coast. Traditionally, weaving was a task undertaken by the men. Carding and spinning the wool were tasks, which the women did.
Think about the language of weaving and how it has crept into commonly used phrases
the fabric of life
to weave a story / spell
to get yourself into knots
to spin a yarn
to tease it out
Get some small wooden frames – they are invaluable as weaving frames and as fabric stretchers.
Working with a cardboard loom
Fabrics may be created on a variety of different shaped looms. Having had the experience of weaving using paper, the children at the phase, can progress onto weaving using a simple cardboard loom.
Cut slits into the top and bottom edges of a piece of cardboard. The slits may be any distance apart, usually, about 1cm. Judge it best to suit the yarn or material with which you are going to weave. Place warp threads, usually cotton type, through the slits. Then weave or thread fibres through the warp, under over as stated. When completed the fabric may be removed from the loom and made secure using any type of knot top and bottom to tie the warps together. A simple rod may be attached to the top to hang the woven piece.
Any continuous material can be used for weaving, wool, plastic bags, rags, and grasses. Be adventurous. At this introductory stage of weaving, use materials, which ensures the weaving will grow quickly, otherwise the child will get tired of the process. Branch loom.
Other structures can be used as a frame for weaving. A forked branch is just such a structure. The warp threads are wound around the forked branch. The weft threads are woven into these. This can be a good outdoor group project, when a large branch with many forks is used. It is a good introduction to site-specific work, if done in situ in the school garden.
create individual dream catchers as used by the North American Indians
make God’s Eye weavings
weave in a circle using a paper plate – or work large on an old pram / bicycle wheel
Introducing knitting and crochet
Children are introduced to the basic garter stitch, plain knitting row after row. The objective is to encourage the children to knit small create pieces, armbands, hair bands, bookmarks, et cetera. The children are invited to make patterns with different wool colours adding interest. Little purses, pencil cases and the like can be knit
Use small knitted pieces as backgrounds for collages. Simple crochet stitches can be explored and variety achieved by combining simple shapes with colour. Similar pieces as listed for knitting can be created.
make a bracelet or small arm band
Constructing with fabric and fibre
The techniques of working with fabric and fibre (stitching, knotting, weaving et cetera) can be used to create simple three-dimensional forms i.e.
fabric pieces can be pleated, rolled, padded, gathered, and folded to create a three-dimensional stand-alone form.
these can then be joined to make objects of any description, including people and animals.
buttons, beads and fibres can be used to add features or details to the constructions.
parts of constructions can be joined together by wrapping, stitching, pinning, or taping sections together.
stockings, socks or tubes of fabric can be stuffed ( with crumpled newspaper, cotton wool, old nylon stockings ) and modelled into shape as desired. Details can be added as described previously e.g. stuff a nylon stocking with some other stockings - with a needle and fibre start to attach facial features - catch some of the stuffing with the outside fabric as you stitch, pulling threads together to create a three-dimensional sculptures face - children are surprised and delighted as the funny features develop before their very eyes.
stuff a square of fabric - tie it with a rubber band or thread - pieces of fabric, fibres, beads, sequins et cetera can be used to add special details and character to the unique creation.
threads and fabrics can be used to decorate spaces or to create a fabric and fibre environment in a classroom corner - it could be a jungle or web like structure inhabited by various imaginative creatures, each child having a part to contribute - children can use a variety of techniques to complete this activity - especially suitable as an activity for the Halloween period.
Other techniques to explore
The children are encouraged to create inventive imaginative pieces so that they can experiment with and practice previously learned techniques of working with fabric and fibre. It is important that value is placed on all such work and that the final product is not the only consideration - it is the inherent learning process that is of more value. At this stage, some simple techniques of stitching, knotting and weaving can be introduced if desired.
Through problem solving activities introduce the children to further simple stitching methods.
make a line of stitches with spaces – draw with a fibre
make a line of stitches without spaces.
make a curvy line with loops and spaces.
make a line wavy line of stitches with crosses
use stitches to fill in a space – simple embroidery
A true spirit of invention is to infuse all this work with inventive stitchery. Colour and textures in threads will of course add immense interest to such activities. A fabric chart could be kept to record all invented stitches, and proudly displayed in the classroom as a reference point.
Knotting and Plaiting Activities -
Children can be introduced to the idea of a creating a simple knot using one thread. They can nest make a simple knot to join two or more fibres together. Children discover the best way to create a lasting knot, and explore which knots can be easily undone. Children are encouraged to plait, using three different coloured wools or suitable yarns. Plaits may be made in the county colours or those of the school. They might make a study of knots and splices used in the scouts or on the sea.
Displays of work
Work to be displayed might include items such as
designs and images drawn, painted or printed onto fabrics
images on fabric showing the use of collage or appliqué techniques
pieces of weaving – mobiles made with woven pieces
pieces of simple embroidery – possibly done on dyed pieces of fabric
knitted or crochet pieces
soft toys – sock puppets, stuffed figures, invented toys, glove puppets
stocking-face dolls with invented costumes added
simple jewellery that has been constructed using scrap items
drawn / painted designs for clothes / fashion items