Getting started with fabric and fibre

Materials and tools

Creative work in fabric and fibre encourages free experimentation rather than traditional techniques only. Focusing on the structures and qualities of fabric and fibre expands children’s visual and tactile experiences and helps them to develop a sense of design. Children need opportunities to handle and manipulate a wide range of fabric scraps and fibres to discover their expressive possibilities and their suitability for different tasks, to feel confident in the choices they make and to enjoy the process.

The materials themselves are the best starting point. Children can begin by investigating open-weave fabric such as hessian, pulling threads and seeing how they are put together. They can develop their own wall hanging by choosing contrasting fibres and weaving one or two into the larger holes they have created by pulling out the original threads. If they can tie simple knots they can add some beads or other plastic bits with large holes, or choose some small contrasting fabric scraps from a large store and simply glue them on.

With experience, children will use fabric and fibre more consciously as a medium in which to design and invent. As they develop dexterity they will be interested in trying out new ways of changing and creating fabric and in experimenting with fashion design.

An introduction to skills in knitting, for example, should be introduced in the context of traditional crafts and should not involve the children in time consuming repetitive tasks. As they develop dexterity, the sewing needle may be introduced as a drawing and designing tool, rather than as a tool for repetitive exercises.