Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ideas for working with Fabric and fibre

It is important that children learn to use the language of Fabric and fibre.
Here are many of the key words/terms that are used in this strand.


fabric, fibre, thread, cloth clothes, material, rough, smooth, prickly, spongy ,thick, thin, wool, cotton, plastic, cord, tape, raffia, twine, rushes, tie, knot, fringe, fray, tease, web, cut, clothing, costume, uniform, bubble-wrap, ribbon, dye, colour, repeat

, 1st AND 2nd CLASSES

match, sort, sew, bond, staple, unravel, hessian, fruit, nets, onion-sacking,
stitch, pom-pom, tassel, loop, twist, curl, , under and over, netting, woven, construct, deconstruct, running, stitch, crochet, cross, plaiting, draw(meaning pulling a thread),fold, gather, beads, buttons, seeds, sequins


curtains, tapestry, furnishings, dye-bath, knitted, needlegauge, crochet, hand-made, machine-made, warp( vertical )
weft (horizontal) shuttle, (device which carries the yarn over and under the warp) beater, (used to push the woven yarn into place), backstitch, hem, satin, stitch, embroidery, lace, pleat, gather, wall-hanging, hang,
heat, seal, tease, colour-fast, temperature

spinning, weaving, macramé, tapestry,
mat, braid, basketry, patchwork, appliqué, embroidery, needlecraft, knit (cast on, cast off, increase, decrease, pattern, plain, purl, moss stitch, rib, ply of wool), crochet (hook, double, chain, treble) beeswax, gutta,
resist, dye, absorb, dye-bath, cast,
penetrate, wall, hanging, flag, banner,
tie-dye, flour-batik, tjanting-tool, Java,
dowel, cat-gut, textiles, immerse

Can you think of other words?

Fabric and fibre for Infant classes
Exploring fabrics

You can make collections of cloth scraps and old clothes for the children to explore. Factories, craft shops, DIY shops and haberdashery suppliers are often good sources as are local dressmakers and often parents who work with fabric or in the fashion business. Fabrics explored should include fabric of different weights, colours, patterns, textures, and method of manufacture.

Can you find fabrics in the scraps box that you think show bright happy colours?
Can you make a collection of pieces that are all smooth?
Can you pick out some pieces that have lots of pattern on them?
Can you make a collection of some of your favourite pieces and glue them onto a card background to create a simple fabric collage?
Can you take some rubbings / prints from some of the scraps?
Can we make some charts for our classroom that tell others what we have discovered about fabrics?



Introducing Fibres

Provide children with a wide variety of fibres to explore, to touch, to feel and to compare their qualities.
Fibres to be explored should include natural fibres, wool, raffia, feathers, cotton, linen, reeds, rushes, etc.

Can you find some red fibres and tie them to the top of your pencil?
Can you find a piece of rope and pull it to pieces – what have you discovered?
Can you look at a feather through a magnifying glass – can you see the individual fibres/threads? Can you do the same thing with a spider’s web?
Can you make some patterns with fibres on a piece of cardboard and take some rubbings?
Let’s make another chart e.g.


wool - cotton - linen - twine - rope - thread - nylon – raffia - silk
hessian - grasses - reeds - twigs

Sorting Fabric and Fibre

Ask the children to make sets with their fabric and fibre collections. These could be grouped according to category:

A set of pieces with colours I like
A set of pieces with my favourite textures
Pieces of fabric I have dyed

Which is your favourite piece of fabric?
Why do you like that particular piece?

Pin the fabric and fibre collections to charts on a display board. The children can be encouraged to invent other categories as they each add a favourite fabric/fibre to the group collection.

Integrate this work with work in sorting and classifying in mathematics. Have a sorting for texture box – can you find pieces of fabric with the same texture when you are blindfolded?

Identify local sources for fabric and fibre supplies.

Look at how fabrics are made

Explore simple open-weave fabric such as hessian, and tweed. The children are encouraged to

pull out, and ‘deconstruct’ the entire piece – discover that all fabrics are made from fibres
make patterns/draw with the fibres you get and take rubbings
use the fibres to mask out in some simple mono-printing activities
put some of the fibres into a net bag and dye them. These can later be used for a variety of purposes.

In this way children come to understand how the weave works in any fabric. The term ‘over under can be further explored in simple terms. Children, working in groups, could be encouraged to tear up newspapers and position torn strips on the worktop following the ‘under over’ weave pattern.
Hessian can also be stretched and pulled at random to create gaps and holes.

Fabric and Fibre in the environment

Find examples of fabric and fibre in the children’s environment.
Begin with their own clothes; look at the weave in their uniform, the wool in their jumpers, and the carpet in the classroom.

have a fabric and fibre day – ask the children to come to school dressed in some of their favourite clothes – discuss lines, shapes, colours, patterns, textures (the elements of art) that you can see in the clothes/

draw pictures about yourself in your favourite clothes

Dressing up/Inventing a Costume

Create a dressing up corner in the classroom, containing different outfits such as ball-gowns, overalls, fantasy outfits, belts buckles and magic wands. Include large pieces of fabric and fibres like satins and netting, so that the children can practise joining methods using

elastic bands
double-sided tape
masking tape
string etc.

Make a list of what you feel should be in a good quality dressing-up box – and begin to assemble these.

Provide a context for children through informal questioning e.g. integrate this with work from the drama curriculum, dress up as a favourite character and

tell the class about your costume.
tell them who you are ( or maybe let them guess )
make up a story about your character

Discuss clothes

Gather examples of various ways in which people dress. This is a good avenue for exploring multiculturalism. Discuss fabric and clothes in general. Integrate work here with work in the SPHE and Science curricula

Why do we need clothes?
What types of clothes do you have?
How do we use fabrics in our homes?
Ask the children to bring in examples of fabric in use in their homes e.g. they could display a series of favourite cushions

Examine the science and SPHE curriculum documents to find the links.

Talk about our work

Encourage the class to discover the possibilities for using fabric and fibre to create imaginative collages with various designs and patterns. The children could be engaged in a discussion as follows

Can you show me ways in which you can use fabrics and fibres to make a pattern or picture?
Can you draw a picture using fibres?
Can you take a line for a walk, now can you take a fibre for a walk?
Can you arrange a design created with fabric and fibres on a different background e.g. pieces of felt, cardboard sheeting, pillowcases, etc?
Do you like doing this?
What ways have you discovered to change the surface of a fabric? Did you take away a part, add a bit, colour or dye the fabric?
Can you tell me all the different types of fibres you used from our fabric and fibre boxes?

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