We tried to think of all the common fastenings that children encounter. We knew we wanted buttons, zips and Velcro as the basics, but my mum also really wanted something to allow her class to practise tying shoelaces. Familiarising them with seat belt style fastenings also came up.
Luckily, I had most of the notions needed kicking about. I cut up an old coat and shirt for the buttons with button holes. This lets the children actually see how they work, how the buttons and placket overlap, how the buttons feed through. They get to view it straight on too, instead of looking down at their chest while trying to manipulate the buttons.
I included panels with button and loops, and Chinese ball buttons. Again, things they are likely to come across.
The zips were ones I had kicking around. I’d have liked to do more of an opening panel, but is was worried about the zip pull coming off the end as I didn’t have any coat front zips. As is, I did a jean opening style panel and an ‘invisible zip’ panel.
The Velcro is quite fun, different levels of the hook base for them to attach the top panel down on.
I used a few different sized poppers. My mum thought a panel with them might be a bit difficult for the tiny creatures to manipulate as they can’t see the bits, so I did narrow individual popper panels, with very obvious star stitching so they know where the bits are they have to align.
The lacing panel is fairly simple, but should let them practise shoe lace tying, and see how the lacing pulls the panels together.
Other little panels have over sized hook and eyes and a jump hook. Less common, but still things they might encounter.
The belt section has an old buckle belt I cut up, a d-ring webbing fastening and white webbing with a clip. Again, things they might come across that are big and blocky enough for them to use. The d-rings might stump them for a bit mind, I had to ask my mum to remind me how they worked!
I put all the bits and bobs on separate panels before stitching them down to the main backing. It took much longer to do, but it should, hopefully, make it last longer. If any panels do get damaged, it will be easier to remove and repair them too. The whole thing is attached to a 1/2″ wooden board so it can be hung on a wall or propped up to play with.
The backing fabric is loosely glued down on the front, mostly just to hold it on place while I worked on the back. I used copydex around the edges on the back to stop them fraying, they shouldn’t anyway with the type of fabric I used, but I wanted to be certain. It should hold it down a bit between the upholstery pins I used too.
The main purple and turquoise panels are a strange not-quite-felt/not-quite-fleece fabric from The House of Objects. The white webbing and clip is from there too. It’s a great resource for schools in Newcastle, but you can also sign up other groups, or as an individual. Once you’ve paid the yearly membership, bin bag sized hauls from the vast collection of ‘stuff’ are only £2.50. They get some really interesting bits and pieces in, and almost always have some fabric. Considering how many meters you can get for £2.50, it doesn’t take much to make up for the membership cost. They often have leather scraps and high-density foam suitable for LARP weapon making in too. They’re happy for folk to pop in for a look round before signing up, so go check it out!
Here’s the fastening board in use! It’s surviving quite well, apparently.