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How to Make Table Mats

See more activities in: Third Grade, History

The finger-flexing art of weaving is so old that some anthropologists believe the craft helped shape the way our hands move and work. Give your child a basic introduction to this ancient craft by recycling old sweaters into simple cloth table mats. A bold, blocky pattern makes the job workable for small hands, and recycled materials means you can do this craft without a trip to the craft store.

What You Need:

  • 4 adult sweater sleeves
  • Fabric scissors
  • 6" x 12" sheet of cardboard
  • Ruler
  • Heavy string, cut into 6 15" pieces
  • Metal tapestry needle

What You Do:

  1. Help your child cut the sleeves into 1" wide rings, then cut the rings open to create strips.
  2. To make the loom, have him poke a row of 6 holes along both short edges of the corrugated cardboard with the needle, 1" from the edge and spaced 1" apart.
  3. Thread the needle with one of the lengths of string and insert it into the bottom right-hand hole from back to front, then thread it through the corresponding hole on the other side. Continue stringing, using one piece of string per pair of holes. The threads that run the length of the loom are called the warp.
  4. When you're finished threading the strings, gather the ends together and loosely tie a knot. Make sure all strings have about the same tension, then do the same for the other side.
  5. Show your child the technique of weaving by completing the first two rows yourself. Work the first strip over one thread and under the next, across the loom. Work the second strip the opposite way (over where you just went under). Gently push the bottom strip up with your fingertips until it's right under the previous row. Knot the ends of the strips together every other row.
  6. Once he understands the process, let your child take the reins. Four sleeves make 2-3 mats, about 5" x 9". Encourage him to make several mats so the technique really sinks in.
  7. When he's finished, release the mat by inserting the tip of the scissors through the string holes, one by one, and snipping through the cardboard (careful not to snip the string!). While you hold down the loom, have your child gently lift the threads.

After learning the technique, try taking on a bigger project: cut a bigger loom and use longer strips cut from sweater bodies to make a matching table runner.

Updated on Apr 8, 2013
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See more activities in: Third Grade, History
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