Students learn traditional techniques to create sustainable fabrics and garments



Throughout the academic year more than 120 Liverpool School of Art and Design students have learnt a variety of traditional skills from leatherwork to weaving

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Throughout the academic year more than 120 undergraduate, MA and PhD students from a range of disciplines across the Liverpool School of Art and Design have learnt a variety of traditional skills from leatherwork to weaving.The extra modular ‘how to’ workshops are part of the school’s drive to promote sustainability and for students to better understand the origin of their materials, ensuring they can make more informed choices when designing garments. The workshops also complement all programmes of study, providing further creative skills that can boost graduate employability.

Since September, there have been 11 workshops covering millinery wire shaping, leather bevelling, stitching and embossing, the traditional weaving and spinning of fabrics as well as the Japanese techniques of Boro patching and Sashiko stitching for creative mending.

One of the artisans invited to the Liverpool School of Art and Design studios was mother and daughter duo, Cathy and Jessamy Wright of Lazykate Textiles. They showcased the traditional craft of spinning to the students across three workshops to instil a better understanding of the basics of fabric production.

Cathy was extremely happy to have been invited to undertake the tutorials and was impressed by those who took part. “We've been blown over by both the interest shown by the students and their ability too. LJMU have, in my opinion, much foresight in having spinners and weavers visit to show the basics of these processes.”

Six traditional wheels were brought into the studios during each session, with students paired up to each learn how to draft and treadle the wheel to better understand the coordination needed to spin the fabrics. Cathy also stressed the importance to the students of making considered fabric choices and understanding the origin of those materials.

“By taking the time to be able to talk to the students about the sheep, the breeds and the qualities of the fibre and to let them feel the differences in those fibres it makes the connection between the fabrics and the animals that produce them. In terms of provenance and sustainability and giving a connection to local producers, hopefully they will remember and make those connections when they are designing or choosing where their fabric comes from in the future.”

The teaching and support staff within the Liverpool School of Art and Design ensure that sustainability is considered throughout all programmes of study. From creating tote bags using old clothing or bedding to utilising a remnants container across workrooms to ensure materials are not wasted.  

Cathy Reilly from Liverpool School of Art and Design said: “These workshops have proved very valuable across the school because now more than ever we need to be more conscious when it comes to sustainability, not just in fashion, but as a lifestyle and a way forward.”

Interested in studying at Liverpool School of Art and Design? Discover all courses at LJMU on our dedicated webpage.

- LJMU has been supported by various local artisans to deliver the workshops throughout the year including Liverpool Weaving Company, Liverpool’s very first and only micro mill; Studio Thrift who offer workshops in Sashiko/Boro techniques within creative mending; Denise Innes Spencer Millinery who teaches how to create structure and shapes using wire which can be transposed into any discipline; and Diamond Awl Leather run by Jason Stocks-Young who specialises in leather using techniques such as bevelling, burnishing, saddle stitch and embossing. 


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