J8, the junior version of the G8 summit, was the first global citizenship initiative of its kind to be launched in secondary schools across the UK. I was invited to organise the production of some 150 textile articles for the event, held in Edinburgh in July.
For four exciting weeks I worked with 13 S5 (Year 11) pupils to design, trial, produce and package a water bottle cover that would, we hoped, symbolise some of the aims of the summit.
At the start, I held a meeting with eight modern studies pupils entering a J8 video competition, and the 13 textiles pupils. This brain-storming proved invaluable.
We needed to decide what we were producing and think about suitable designs. We had to work within the constraints of time, cost, and the availability of fabric, equipment and our pupils' skills.
It was quickly decided that something with a Scottish theme would be ideal, especially as we knew of a Glasgow school that had created its own multicultural tartan.
We decided on a water bottle cover incorporating tartan and designs representing environmental issues. We then had to source the materials: polypropylene packaging, hangers, white jersey and lightweight tartan fabric.
Pupils disassembled a wine bottle cover to draft a pattern and make a prototype and we went on to make the finished product using production line methods.
Using rotary cutters and mats enabled us to cut 10 pieces at one time, and the articles were assembled as if in a textile factory, with each pupil becoming proficient at her own job. There were some mistakes, but we learned from them.
One of the pupils became the natural supervisor, and background pop music made work fun and improved concentration. The pupils' enthusiasm grew and their attendance at school improved as the task progressed.
A professional look was achieved partly by using a cover-stitch sewing machine and an advanced pressing system. More important was the pupils'
persistence and patience, which were so necessary to achieve a quality product.
We are proud of our finished product - a wee T-shirt to fit over a water bottle, with one tartan sleeve and with six different logos. One of these logos sums up how we feel: "Our world; our responsibility."
Susan Freeman, principal teacher home economics, Notre Dame High School, Edinburgh