BA and GradDip Fashion Studios

Our fashion workshops support the BA Fashion and Graduate Diploma in Fashion courses. Each is equipped with industrial machinery for garment sampling, large adjustable pattern cutting tables and tailors stands.

Questions answered by Specialist Technician Jan Shefford

What can students do here?

Students can do anything: sew, cut, pattern cut, fuse, draw… Anything that is more or less required of them, apart from research.

What is the most common request you get?

Generally it’s about pieces of equipment that they might need to use, needles for sewing machines, or simply ‘can I buy some fabric?’

The main things they ask for are the core skills like zips and collars, trousers zips or gathering. They get inductions on all these skills, but they sometimes need specifics or a reminder.

Is there a particular project you remember?

We work on all the different pathways, so there are a lot of projects. But most of the final years’ projects are really great, with some amazing garments. I often find myself thinking: ‘how have you created that on your own?’

Students use quite hardcore things at times: last year we had a girl in print who used a composite concrete effect. It was made from resin, and she screwed it to the fabric. That was quite testing.

Have you ever had to say to a student that a project was impossible?

Yes, but we don’t like doing it. Usually we’ll try and find a way around it. We try not to say no too much; even though, when students want to join something very soft to something very hard, or you’re trying to manhandle a huge piece of very solid fabric or canvas around a machine, whilst trying to sew it at the same time, it can get very challenging.

What makes this workshop a special place at CSM?

The workshop here at King’s Cross is a big open space, but when we were at Charing Cross Road, it was loads of little rooms.

Ultimately, CSM is an art college, it’s a very arty place. There’s a lot of mess: big shapes, loads of paper and fabric everywhere, especially at the end of term. That’s what you expect here, that kind of creative process.

Students are encouraged to be outrageous with their designs. They’re given a lot of freedom, especially in the womenswear pathways, where they can more or less go mad with their designs. As a technician, this is great, because it makes you think. You very often have to tell the student to let you think on a problem, you go home and have to come up with something, a way of going about it or worth trying. We don’t always know the answers: it’s challenging for them but they challenge us as well.