|The completed tapestry|
Another great book with actual tapestries in it is: "The Unicorn Tapestries," by Margaret B. Freeman (ISBN 0-525-22643-5). This book has large, full-color pages of each of the 6 tapestries in this series as well as TONS of info in the text about the history of and symbolism in the tapestries. There is also a wonderful section on how tapestries are made with great diagrams and pictures that the children found fascinating.
And finally, I showed them an example of a modern-day take on the Bayeux Tapestry in, "Dia's Story Cloth: the Hmong People's Journey to Freedom," by Dia Cha. The Hmong people use story cloths to link the past and present and provide a visual element to their people's oral traditions and history. The visual elements of the cloth featured in this book as well as the background of how the cloth was made over time and sewn by many hands (by men and women), really reinforced many of the elements that I was trying to highlight with this project.
Information I presented about the Bayeux Tapestry:
Castles back in Medieval times were cold, dark places. They were heated by fireplaces and had few windows so that they could hold the heat in (and for protection). So, some people believe that artisans would create wall hangings, curtains, pillow covers, and banners to make their living areas more comfortable and colorful. It was believed by some that tapestries were used to stop drafts from coming through old castle walls, but now we believe that this may not have been true: many of the wall hangings were thin pieces of material and did not have layers of batting or fur that would truly work to keep cold out.
Tapestries are woven from silk or wool and showed very detailed scenes from the Bible, songs and legends. The threads were colored from handmade dyes that were made from herbs, berries or even crushed up bugs!
The Bayeux Tapestry tells how William of Normandy (William the Conqueror) became King of England and showcases the Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD. The Bayeux Tapestry was created about 1070 or so.
How to Make Your Own Story Cloth/Tapestry:
- Paper, pencil & eraser
- Paper cut to the size of your fabric squares, ours were 8x8" (this helps children better design the pictures for the actual finished space they'll be using)
- Fabric Markers (I use Crayola brand)
- 8x8" squares white fabric (you'll need 4 per tapestry, but have extras on hand just in case)
- 9x45" Backing Material (I used unbleached muslin)
- Straight pins
- Sewing Machine & thread
- About 40" of ribbon (five 8" segments) (can be braided or embroidered)
- Glue gun & hot glue sticks
- Table cover
- 11" long wooden dowel (optional)
Once the child has written a short story from his/her life, s/he is ready to go! I had the children divide their stories into 3 parts. Then the child should think of a picture for each section of the story.
|Step 1: Using a template helps children write in straight lines|
|Step 2: Transfer the text and images to cloth|
3. Using a fourth fabric square, create a title square with the name of the tapestry or story cloth as well as the author's name.
|Step 3: Create a title panel (don't forget your name!)|
4. Prepare the background: The background strip is 9" wide by 45" long. Fold the top edge over about 2 1/2" to create a casing to hang the banner by. Sew. Then fold the bottom corners of the backing inward to form a center point (just to make a decorative bottom edge). Sew.
|Step 4: Prepare the backing material by making a casing and finishing the bottom edge|
5. Then have the children arrange the four squares of their story onto the backing & pin in place. When arranging the squares, have their edges touch.
6. Sew down the left and right sides of the squares.
|Step 5: Pin and sew squares onto backing. I just sew down the left and right sides and cover the top and bottom seams with ribbon (next step).|
7. Hot glue 8" long strips of embroidered or braided ribbon to the top and bottom edges of the fabric squares for decoration and to hide the raw edges of the fabric squares.
|Step 7: Attach ribbon with hot glue. This is both decorative and it covers the top and bottom seams of the fabric squares.|
8. Insert a dowel into the casing of the tapestry, hang, and enjoy!
Note: Because portions of the banner are hot glued on, they are not washable. These could be made higher-quality if you had the time and money. They could also be made solely from paper if you are doing this on a very tight budget or with a large group of students.