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London College of Fashion

claudette mare street

LCF and Hackney Children’s Centre work together to teach fashion

Written by Josh De Souza Crook
Published date 28 June 2016

London College of Fashion and a dozen local mums from Morningside Children’s Centre, Hackney, have been working together over the past ten weeks to teach the mothers about the fashion industry and pattern cutting at our Mare Street site.

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All the Morningside mums together at Mare Street on their final session.

The project was a collaboration between the Outreach Team at LCF and Morningside Childern’s Centre community group, which is a ten minute walk from our Mare Street site. The mothers had little to no experience with sewing, but had a burning desire to learn more about fashion and producing garments. The ten week program was a project with Outreach, who work with local young people, schools and families to inform them of the opportunities at LCF and University of the Arts London.

Carole Morrison, Outreach Manager, spoke to LCF News about the project and how it came about.

The project was a collaboration with a neighbouring community group at Morningside Children’s Centre. It responded to a dozen local mums who wanted to learn about the Fashion Industries. Over 10 weeks (for 2.5 hours a week) they worked with Claudette Davis-Bonnick a tutor at LCF, to study a range of specialist skills in pattern cutting, fabric manipulation and clothes construction.

Most of the mums had little to no sewing skills, but by the end of the project they had all researched, designed and made their own skirts. One participant Farzana, had made a skirt especially for the Ede celebrations that will follow Ramadam and another Sian had made a skirt that would expand during her pregnancy, another just managed to finish her skirt a day before the birth of her child! After working together on this project the Morningside mums are now exploring how they can continue to work together and are looking at how they might become a self sustaining group.

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LCF tutor, Claudette Davis-Bonnick (far right), at the last session with one of the Morningside Children’s Centre mums.

Local mum Farzana Patel signed up to the project as she wanted to learn more about the fashion industry, and eventually make garments for her seven children. Speaking to LCF News, she said:

I saw an email from Morningside saying they will be working with LCF on some sewing classes and I thought that’s great. I tried to create a skirt when I was pregnant but it didn’t fit, I wanted be learn more so I could adjust the garment in the future and hopefully make some stuff for my girls too. I have six girls and one boy, they are always telling me what they want to wear so I want to learn for them.

The project has been an amazing experience for me to learn and see the facilities at LCF! The whole class has been amazing, and the teaching from Claudette and Lauren has been invaluable to us. I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for, its been tough but I wanted to learn as much as possible, I lost a lot of sleep working late at night so I could really push myself. I want to give this knowledge back to other people. I use to be a helper at a sewing class but felt like I couldn’t offer much, now I hope that I can teach people what I’ve learnt from LCF.

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Four of the Morningside Children’s Centre mothers with their completed skirts and garments.

Mojisola Muhammed, another mother from Hackney’s Morningside Children’s Centre, said:

Fashion is something that has always inspired me. Right from the offset, I always loved to make dresses or clothes of my own. I like picking materials and combining them with others, I’m not a professional but I enjoy trying to create something. Dresses and skirts are my favourite thing to design, I use a lot of African fabrics. I sometimes see a style and try to develop something out of it cause I love to sew for my girls, I have two young girls who love my sewing. I really wish I had the time to look after my children but also come to LCF, pick a course I like, then become a professional in it.

The project has helped me learn a lot about fashion, and how the industry works, the demands and skills needed to become a professional. I’m now familiar with a lot of textile terminology that I never knew existed. I hope to do something professional after the project with LCF, maybe even come here to study a course later.

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LCF have been working together with Morningside Children’s Centre to teach local mums about fashion and pattern cutting.

MA Pattern and Garment Technology student and Outreach ambassador, Laura Jane Salisbury, who has been working alongside Claudette on the project to teach the mothers about fashion and pattern cutting said:

Claudette, who I’ve known for a long time, was my original tutor when I started at LCF five years ago and I have been working together on my Master’s project. We’ve worked together on other projects, including an external facing one called Able Label. She mentioned she was getting involved in this project. Claudette, Carole and I sat down and discussed the project and I wanted to get involved straightaway. This has been a great way of using the skills I’ve learnt while studying at LCF. I hope to use my skills in a beneficial way that could hopefully put some of the mothers on their pathway. We have been teaching both practical and digital techniques to the them, and also helping them out with additional classes if they want to take anything further.

The amount the ladies have learnt in the short space of time has been monumental. We wouldn’t normally put women through this much work in such a short space of time as it can get quite intense. Many of the women never touched a sewing machine before we started, now they are producing to a college standard entry level which is fantastic. Being able to get to this level over six weeks is incredible, and the ladies are still hungry to learn more and be shown new ways of developing their skills. I’ve been here every week and its been great! It’s all about understanding where you are located and giving back to the community. I think LCF are doing a great job at giving back to Hackney, it is bringing people together and creating new bonds in the community. This is something that perhaps hasn’t been there in the past, so its great that LCF are incorporating themselves into the community.