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Textile Curriculum, as Outlined by Heidi Ambrose-Brown

March 01, 2020 1:04 PM | Anonymous

In my last post, I briefly mentioned the shocking lack of practical textile skills possessed by my generation and the generations that have followed. We covered the ways this impacts the environment, but not the way this impacts individuals in their day to day lives. The truth is, I wasn’t quite clear on the benefits of textile skills beyond repairing clothing and enjoying myself as us right-brainers do . Of course there is an art therapy perspective, but that can get a little more abstract. Because of this, I was very relieved to find an article by Heidi Ambrose-Brown, who does a fabulous job of outlining why textile lessons in the 21st century are not only still relevant, but indispensable.

This article, titled Sew What? - Why Textiles Lessons Need to be Brought Into the 21st Century, examines the UK textile industry alongside their National Curriculum in schools as of 2016. Her argument centers around the way the general population is taking the textile industry for granted including fast fashion, diminishing work forces and, most distressingly, schools cutting textile design curriculum and funding. To drive her point home, Ambrose-Brown meticulously lays out skills acquired through textile lessons as they apply to each area of study. I will include a direct quote below, as I found this to be incredibly valuable. 


  • Drafting the pattern – measurement, scale, tolerances
  • Dyeing fabric – ratios


  • Researching and applying information with regard to properties of fabrics
  • Understanding and writing patterns and instructions clearly


  • Knowing the structure of plant and animal cells to determine the properties of fibres
  • Understanding the principles of polymerisation to manufacture synthetic and regenerated fibres
  • Knowing the chemical reactions that take place when dyeing fibres and fabrics, in order to get the desired outcomes
  • Sublimation (digital printing) – applying the physical change of transition from a solid to a gas and back again
  • Testing properties of fabrics – for example, tensile strength


  • Developments/inventions affecting fabrics and clothing as linked with social history


  • Environmental impact on the manufacturing of textiles products and the social responsibilities of companies


  • Use of CAD/CAM to create accurate designs and patterns, before employing these as prototypes or in batch production
  • Development and application of new smart/ technical fibres and fabrics
  • Inclusion of wearable electronics through the use of conductive thread and fabric


  • Development of technical fibres engineered for a specific end use
  • Drafting technically accurate pattern pieces that relate to a 3D outcome
  • Understanding how the key components of a sewing machine operate in relation to each other

Art-making has long been stuck in it’s own category and somewhat undermined in that way. I greatly appreciate the recognition that Ambrose-Brown brings to the subject and applaud her for such an articulate rallying call. Textile artists, feel pride! To engage in this art process is to be skilled in much more than aesthetics. 



Photo 1, embroidery, Image by Anita Smith from Pixabay

Photo 2, boy in classroom, Photo by Gabriel Rodrigues on Unsplash


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