Media, materials and processes: textiles

Some pupils prefer working with textiles to the ‘messy’ aspects of wet media. Textiles have particular resonance in a Northern Ireland context because of the history of the industry here. The various practices and procedures of working with textiles are also widely reflected in contemporary practice, in the fine and applied arts.

Learning Intentions

  • We are learning that yarns and fabrics have different qualities.
  • We are learning about fabrics.
  • We are learning to be able to construct them.
  • We are learning how to decorate fabric in a number of ways, for example using stitches to decorate and/or join it.
  • We are learning how to combine textile techniques.
  • We are learning to make connections between classroom activities and the world of work.

Learning Activities

Provide a range of textiles for the pupils to handle and discuss. You could ask them to:

  • sort and group yarns according to colour, texture, pattern and weight to use in creative textile processes;
  • explore textile qualities such as absorbency, stretchiness, crease resistance etc;
  • select fabrics for collage work and 3D constructions;
  • unravel and fringe fabrics to create various effects; and/or
  • realise that some fabrics can be reused and recycled.

Give opportunities for the pupils to use a range of textile techniques. For example, they could:

  • weave on natural or man-made objects or on cardboard looms, using grasses, twigs, strips of fabric, plastic or other flexible materials;
  • create woven backgrounds with specific colours and/or textures;
  • make simple woven pictures;
  • finger knit to create textural pieces for collage work;
  • knit on needles; and/or
  • create felted fabrics from natural fibres, e.g. make felt from fleece and soap.

Have the pupils practise decorating and joining fabric by:

  • colouring:
    • with paints, pens, fabric crayons and inks;
    • with print, using objects or blocks;
    • by tie-dyeing, using natural and man-made dyes and inks; and/or
    • by transferring images onto fabric using ink transfer media for digital printers;
  • using stitch:
    • straight stitches with threads or wools of different lengths to add texture or pattern;
    • knotted stitches to add detail and texture to fabric or mixed-media collages;
    • stitches invented to add detail to pieces of work; and/or
    • stitching through a layer of fabric and wadding to create a quilted finish.

Help the pupils experiment with appliqué techniques by using stitches to collage fabric pieces.

Allow them to work individually or in groups to combine paint, paper, fabric and stitch in mixed-media collages.

Lead the class in an investigation of the history and traditions of the textile industries in Northern Ireland.

Investigate continuing traditions and patterns of employment in jobs which use textiles.