This collection of crafts for kids is inspired by the gorgeous global textiles from around the world.
Across the world, local culture reflects in the prints of the clothes we wear. The various techniques we use today derive from long standing traditions in different parts of the globe, but we often forget that even our clothes, much like food and museum artifacts, are filled with stories and snippets of history that we should start paying more attention to. It’s time that we taught our kids the origins of prints and patterns we often see on clothing, so that they have a better understanding of the world around them.
Here is a look at some of the most notable global textiles, plus a multicultural craft to go along with each.
Celebrated as both an art and a craft as noted on Batik Guild, these Eastern cloths have seen a growing presence in the Western world. The batik practice has been around for centuries, originating from the Javanese word tik that means to dot and as an ancient tradition in, Java Indonesia. To make these gorgeous fabrics, people brush on hot wax on the cloths which would then resist the dyes and done repeatedly in order to add more colors and patterns on to the cloths. This clothes-dyeing process eventually spread to other parts of Indonesia and neighboring countries, and has even adopted modern techniques for contemporary garments, such as stencils, etching, and wax recipes with different resist values.
This easy craft for kids teaches them about the process of batik while using a special kind of glue instead of hot wax. It’s a cute craft for kids to learn about global textiles, while creating a unique, wearable piece of art for themselves.
Mola Applique: Panama
One of Panama’s best-known handicrafts is the mola, intricate reverse-applique handwork made by the Kuna, and now an important symbol of their culture. The layers of brightly-colored fabric form animals or geometric shapes, and are used to decorate the blouses of Kuna women. In fact, the most outstanding designs take hours of complex sewing to complete and is a source of status, and a display of artistic expression and ethnic identity.
In this intricately, detailed craft, your kids can make similar mola designs out of construction paper. These colorful examples of global textiles are beautiful when displayed together.
Fair Isle Knits: Scotland
While there may be an assortment of knitting techniques, the one that may be the most commonly recognized is the Fair Isle knit. As Tootsa describes, it’s a traditional knitting technique that comes from a tiny island in northern Scotland, characterized by the particular patterns and specific tools used, but has now by generalized by the use of two or more colors on each foundation row. Also called stranded knitting, the final products of this technique are a nice and warm fabric as it ends up being slightly bulkier than other knitting styles, perfect for cozy winter jumpers and Christmas sweaters.
To make this accessible for little kids, we have some little sheep craft for kids. Did you know that Scotland has more sheep than people?
Adinkra Cloth: Ghana
African prints have been all the rage for the past few Fashion Weeks, and one of the most beautiful patterns to come from this continent is the Ghanaian cloth known as Adinkra. First developed by the Ashanti tribe, Adinkra cloths are made by hand, stamped with traditional symbols which were originally worn by royalty at religious ceremonies. As time passed, the Ashanti people used the cloth to express their attitudes toward depicted figures, record historical events, represent popular proverbs, or simply tell a story. Soon thereafter, adinkra symbology were applied as patterns for pottery, architecture, modern commercial designs, sculpture and metal work, according to About African History.
This adinkra craft for older kids uses dollar store sponges instead of carving out of the traditional calabash gourds. Kids learn about the adinkra symbolism and the process, and the result is impressive!
Guatemalan weavers are legendary for their intricate textiles, and have been weaving their clothing, blankets, and other pieces since pre-Columbian times. Using a backstrap loom tied to a tree, the weaver sites on the ground with a strap around their waist so they can move back or forward to produce the needed tension.The weaving is an ancient art practiced for centuries and used on a daily basis, in many parts of Guatemala. Mayan women weave fabrics for their clothes, shawls, baby wraps, tablecloths, washcloths, towels, and much more.
We have a wonderful collection of multicultural weaving books and projects for kids, that include Guatemalan weavers, but also American Indian, Afghani, and Ghanaian. There are weaving projects for all ages!
Kente Cloth: Ghana
Kente (kenten means “basket”) is a hand-woven cloth originally from the Ashanti Kingdom, in Ghana, West Africa. In nearbyCote d’Ivoire, kente is also made by the Akans. The popularity of the colors and patterns of the kente make it one of the most recognizable textiles in Africa. The distinct symbolism has been ingrained in Ghanian culture for hundreds of years. Worn by royalty, the wealthy, or other highly respected people, now it is used by everyone, especially for special occasions such as festivals, ceremonies, and holidays.
This paper weaving craft is an awesome multicultural art project inspired by kente cloth.
Check out Conde Nast Traveler to see a collection of stunning global textiles from around the world.