Hey creative mamas! I want to share with you a fantastic way to get your kids into crafts through the fun and versatile technique of fabric collage.
I first discovered collage when I was a young student doing a Fashion Design Bachelors Degree. At the time I was in love with fabrics and color but had never explored collage as a technique, let alone collage using fabrics. One of my lecturers defined collage as the act of de-constructing a set reality and reassembling it as a new reality with a new perspective. I always loved this definition and it has allowed me to think about my sewing in a much more creative way.
What is fabric collage?
Fabric collage is a method of sewing pieces of fabric together to create a story, a mood, a message and above all to express ourselves. It allows the crafter to gather fabric from many different sources and to create a composition with an intention in mind.
Fabric collage has been my favorite vehicle of expression ever since I left my home country Argentina twenty two years ago. As a young Latin woman in New Zealand, I found myself lost and totally out of place. Textiles crafts, natural dyeing and fabric collage were a way for me to connect with my new country and to make sense of what was going on around me.
As I developed my own fashion sustainability academic career in New Zealand, I also created a program that helps refugees and migrant women settle into their new environment. Fabric collage gives every sewer the ability to express personal creativity and sustain cultural craft traditions. I have used this fantastic technique as a medium to allow migrant and refugee women to express themselves and to communicate through a piece of cloth their feelings, their stories, and their hopes.
A few years ago I started using fabric collage to entertain my own kids and then it developed into its own little program for kids. I have run sessions with kids of different ages but they all have one thing in common. All kids use fabric collage to tell a story about themselves. It’s amazing the things you learn from these little people when you get them collaging!
Get kids crafting
As a mom of three kids, I realized very early on that allowing kids to have quiet moments to think and reflect was a must! I have used fabric collage as a medium to create these moments with my kids and to connect with them in a beautiful way.
I have also run many fabric collage workshops with kids and it always amazes me how much they are willing to share when they are recreating their family home or their family picture or their favorite pet.
Fabric collage is great for kids who are:
- Kinesthetic learners
- Visual learners
- Auditory learners
The kinesthetic learners will get really involved in touching the fabrics and their different textures. They will get creative and communicative triggered by the sensations on their skins.
The visual learners will get excited by the different colors and prints on the fabrics. They will create visual stories based on their response to color as a mood creator.
The auditory learners will create their fabric collage based on the thrill of sharing their little story with their audience. Don’t be surprised if they talk while they create! Also, if they are avid readers they will have lots of stories to tell. Reading to your child can really enhance their creativity!
Materials for fabric collage
The beauty of fabric collage is that its inherently eclectic in the way in which it’s created. We need to gather material from different sources that may have special meaning to us. Old dresses, outgrown kids clothes, a favorite old scarf, a stained pillowcase… they all make great fabric collage materials.
As a mom, I love recycling and upcycling old fabric scraps or worn-out clothes. This means I am reducing waste around the house and transforming old stuff into new beautiful crafts. I am also teaching my kids to make their own crafts with what we have around the house. We are upcycling and recycling meaningful and treasured items instead of always buying new meaningless stuff.
What is Upcycling?
Upcycling is defined as: Reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original; ‘the opportunity to upcycle trash, or turn it into new products…’. Oxford Dictionaries (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com)
What is the difference between recycling and Upcycling?
Recycling is defined as: Convert (waste) into reusable material; ‘car hulks were recycled into new steel’. Oxford Dictionaries (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com). So recycling is just simply about reusing rather than adding value.
What can be upcycled or recycled into a fabric collage
- Old adult clothes
- Old stained tea towels
- Outgrown kids jeans, skirts, jumpers, etc
- Old quilts
- Hessian potatoes or coffee sacks
Fabric collage tutorial for kids
Let’s get started with this creative and fun activity. The first thing you need is a good foundation piece of fabric as well as little pieces of fabric that will be assembled with an intention in mind. Color, shape, and form are all elements that need to be considered when you are working through your fabric collage.
- A thick piece of fabric as a foundation piece 16′ by 16′ (40 cms by 40 cms). this can be felted fabric, gabardine, thick linen, thick cotton or hessian fabric
- Assorted pieces of fabric in different colors, textures, and prints
- Fabric collage Printable Patterns
- Paper and fabric scissors
- Sewing Needles and thread
- Embroidery Hoop optional
- Fabric glue (optional in case you want to avoid sewing)
- Vivid marker
Check Link Below to Get Your Fabric Collage Printable Pattern
Download, print and cut around the shapes of your Fabric Collage Printable Patterns
With a vivid marker or felt trace around your pattern pieces onto your chosen fabric
Cut around your traced images and pin the shapes on top of your foundation fabric piece.
For this step, you can choose to use a hoop or not. Every child will have their own preference. There is no right or wrong 🙂 Sew in place using a basic running stitch. Another great option is to use fabric glue, especially for the younger kids 🙂
Once the shapes are attached to the foundation fabric it’s time to embellish further. you can use buttons, fabric tape, little bows, anything you can get your hands on. Kids love this stage! Allow them to really get into the details and even cut out letters and paste them onto the fabric as well. The fabric collage project is finished when they say: I am done!
Some images from past workshops with very creative little souls
Get your kids crafting straight away by downloading the Free Fabric Collage Patterns here.
I hope you and your kids have as much joy and fun with fabric collage as I have had with my own children over the years 🙂