Making Purses with Children: A Design and Technology Project
I recently had the pleasure of teaching this really interesting and fun unit of D.T. with a class of 7 and 8 year olds. The children first investigated existing ‘money containers’, they brought in their own and I brought in lots (including, of course, lots of ones I had made myself) and everyone had a good look at them, identifying their features and functions. Then the children had a go at making a few different prototype money containers using paper and masking tape, in order to better understand how to construct the different features. They then designed their own wallets which had to contain a closure and two compartments, and be lined with the seams hidden.
Once the children had all designed their own wallets, I took their designs home and painstakingly went through each one, drawing templates and writing instructions for each child, and I put together a pack for each child containing their original design, the templates and instructions I had written for them, as well as enough fabric for their design and any other trimmings and accessories they wanted. I decided this would produce less fabric wastage and also be less time-consuming than trying to do it all in class. The children still had to cut out their fabric using the templates I made them, apart from a few who I knew would struggle with this stage and would be better off having more time to do the actual sewing.
The children really enjoyed spending every Friday morning sewing, all of them were absorbed and engrossed and worked really hard. They used a combination of hand stitching (for appliqueing designs on, embroidery and sewing on buttons) and getting to use my sewing machine which I brought in for the occasion. Some children also painted designs onto the front of their wallets using fabric paint.
The children particularly enjoyed using the machine, and were amazed at the results they got using it compared with hand stitching. They liked experimenting with different stitches too, lots of them chose zigzag stitches to sew their wallets with! I let them just go with it and explore and experiment. Some children were fascinated with the machine, and just liked to sit and watch it closely while other children were sewing with it. One boy even asked me if I could unscrew the covering of the machine so he could properly see the motor. I said one day maybe…
Hearts and a face with a mouth that can be happy or sad depending on the owner’s mood.
Lots of fabric painting!
Paint and ribbons
Three pockets and a note compartment too!
As the photos show, the children produced high quality designs, and ended up with wallets and purses that would be usable, robust and pretty cool to look at too! They are all lined, seams are mostly hidden, and they have some sort of closure (Velcro, poppers, ribbons, or drawstring). This series of lessons really helped show the children that they are capable of making things that actually work, I think all too often we as adults make the mistake of under-estimating what children are capable of, and dumbing down the opportunities and activities we give them. Of course, there are some constraints in Primary schools that are beyond the teachers’ control, time and resources often being the biggest factors. I do think it is important to foster children’s creativity though, creativity brings innovation and innovation keeps the world moving forward.
An added bonus of this project was that I got to donate a huge bag of my scrap fabric for the children to use, thus making a little dent in my scrap fabric hoardings