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13 March 2024

Textiles students’ work with Save The Children displayed in Edinburgh


HND Textiles students from Edinburgh College recently worked with Save The Children to create a collection of original, sustainable, concept garments that were displayed in the charity’s Edinburgh shop windows.

Made entirely from four randomly selected shirts by the charity, each of the fourteen students created a two-piece garment that was inspired by Surrealism in film and fashion – an avant-garde movement which sought to allow the unconscious mind to express itself.

This required that the students research the historical and contemporary aspects of the genre so as to incorporate a surrealism-inspired colour palette into their development sketches, fabric choices and textile sampling; all the while transforming their pre-loved shirts into wearable pieces of clothing that are both ethical and sustainable.

Annette Bruton, a second-year Textiles student from East Lothian, said: “I had four men’s shirts of different sizes - almost all were checked or striped. My first thought was 'Help!' How can I get these to work together?

“I shaped, cut up, dyed and reassembled the fabric into a top using weaving and pleating. I created a long-sleeved, structured blouse in blue, brown and yellow. My aim was to use all the fabric from the shirts so there would be no waste. However, I had lots of fabric left so I made a second garment with the scraps: a semi-see-through skirt celebrating charity shops by embroidering their names on the garment. I think the skirt worked out better."

Although the students found this to be a challenging exercise, they also found it to be a fantastic opportunity to creatively experiment without boundaries, and to explore the different and unique ways their developing textile skills can be applied to fabric.

Aimee Hoggan, HND Textiles student, said: “I enjoyed it. It was kind of like a big thing to do, create a garment from shirts, from scratch. But it was fun because you got to think three dimensional and you could think out of the box. You didn’t need to restrict yourself.”

Kim Gunn, Lecturer in Textiles, Art and Design at Edinburgh College, said: “The challenge has been to give the students some shirts that would just be sitting on a rail – just normal men’s shirts – and let’s see what we can do. Can we upcycle them? Make them into something a bit more exciting, show the potential of pre-loved clothes and what they can be.

“It started a really nice relationship with the charity and has given students a whole insight into sustainable practice because fashion and textiles, let’s face it, doesn’t have a very good reputation. So basically, it’s really showcasing to the public what can be done, but has also been a really good exercise for our fashion and textiles students, just to show them what is possible with very little.”

With sustainability at its core, the students also brought their garments to life on Saturday 24 February during a sustainability-themed Fashion Show at Edinburgh’s City Arts Centre, where they further showcased the potential of upcycling to the public to considerable applause.