Sunday, October 2, 2011

Simple Felt Tapestries

This year I have a student in my class with a broken arm. So, knitting is out and so is anything that requires getting wet (like felting). For the first few months, handwork has to be super-simple. That's great, actually, because I like to start the year with sewing and this just means that we will sew for the first two months before we move on to other things.

I like the Simple Felt Tapestries as an extended sewing project (Feltcraft: Making Dolls, Gifts and Toys has a lovely undersea example, plus patterns; in fact, it is so beautiful that when they came out with a new edition of the book, the tapestry was used as the front cover picture).

We are using the marvelous animal patterns from Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals by Suzanne Down. I gave the children a chance to think about their design overnight (I listed all the animal patterns I had on the board first), then to do a color sketch with their box of colored pencils. Then I had a meeting with each child to decide their background piece of felt. I am giving them a background piece of pure wool felt, so that it is sturdy and strong, and gorgeously colored (I like the felt assortments from Magic Cabin) but all of their pieces to get sewn on as part of the design are less expensive felt. I also have gathered beads, sequins, and other embellishments for them to enjoy. I did sew a sample tapestry first to show them.

To introduce this work, Clare Beaton's Mother Goose Remembersis an excellent choice. She excels in fabric art but the designs are simple enough that the children feel like they can do it too. Plus, you can use this at the beginning of the year when you are choosing verses for circle time -- keep it simple with Mother Goose.

Alternatively, if you are teaching in a traditional school and want to work in some sewing time, use this project as "Storybook Art." MaryAnn Kohl focuses on one of Clare Beaton's books, How Big is a Pig?, in her project "Stitching Time" on page 92 of Storybook Art: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of 100 Great Picture Book Illustrators

Happily, How Big is a Pig? is also available in a Spanish language version: Cerdota Grandotaso you could work it into your Spanish language lessons as well.

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