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iPod Fleece Blanket

8th Grade Side

7th Grade Side


7th/8th grade students designed the iPod Fleece Blanket as a way to reflect on their years at school by creating app icons that would represent some their favorite school memories.

Each student designed two icons- one personal memory icon, and one icon that represented the school. Each student’s personal icon is displayed on the main screen, but the classes voted on their four favorite home screen icons, which are displayed on the home screen area of the blanket. Each student cut their icons out of fleece, and some sewed their own icons as well.

The project is an attempt to use the vernacular of these young adults — the fleece they’ve been dressed in since childhood combined with the technology they’re immersed in now — to craft a meaningful and functional keepsake. The blanket was auctioned as a school fundraiser.

An observation- I’ve known most all of these students since they began Kindergarten, and was interested in what they would decide to represent as their favorite school memory, especially since it’s the 8th graders’ last year at this school. When you bear in mind that most kids’ favorite subjects in school are recess, lunch, and gym, the results from this class were somewhat predictable: of 29 total icons, 9 involved sports or gym, 6 celebrated food, 6 reflected field trips/school dances/friends, 3 championed art/music/theater, 3 showed after-school clubs (Green Team, German, Yearbook), but only 2 involved academics (Science and Technology).

If you’d like to adopt the idea, here’s the procedure we followed. An important first part was the introduction; I gave the students a crash course in 2-d design, and we looked at a large number of commercial logos and iPhone apps that featured simplified shapes and only a few colors. Along with those visuals, the students saw a number of cut paper works by Henri Matisse - a good parallel can be drawn between the way he worked with paper and how the students might eventually cut their solid-color fabrics. The students were then given app-shaped templates to draw on, and the task of representing a favorite school memory in a simple, graphic way. Each student also designed a home screen icon that represented a favorite characteristic of the school. Students worked in the media of their choice, and results were submitted in color pencil, cut paper, watercolor, oil pastel, and paint.

I made photocopies of these drawings for the students to use as patterns when cutting their designs out of fleece. Some students needed three photocopies per icon, but others were able to complete the work with just one or two. They also referred to their original drawings. When cutting, each student began with the icon background (background patterns were also provided), and all were free to make modifications to their design as they became familiar with the fabrics and available colors. If you take on this project, do include a little overage in your yardage. As a teaching hint, inform the students that they are free to make cutting mistakes - it’s difficult to cut comfortably if your scissors are guided by the fear of wasting fabric. They will waste a little, but in all it’s not that much. We kept scraps for practice cuts. Students who were interested in sewing their own icons were welcome to do so; sewing machines lent by teachers/parents took over a corner of the school for the duration of the project. Also, be prepared for this to take a bit of time - we worked on the project off and on for a couple of months so it could be ready for our annual fundraiser on the first weekend in March.

This blanket retains the proportions of the iPod Touch, and each icon measures 8” square. The result is a blanket that’s suited fairly well for a twin bedspread, or an amply-sized, cozy throw. The finished width is close to 55” and the length around 90.” Icons, home screens, and power buttons were sewn first, then sewn down to the black fleece, one large piece for each side (about six yards total, with overage used for the students icons). I used an old-fashioned proportion wheel and a screen-grab of the iPod Touch off the Apple website to figure the spacing on the blanket and work out all the extras. Each student’s app title and name were sewn on a segment of grosgrain ribbon which was then sewn under their icon. To finish, sew blanket edges, right sides together, leaving an opening; then turn and topstitch edges.

Here are a few close-ups of the blanket in production.