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Master the art of patternmaking with a short course

  • Written byCarys Thomas
  • Published date 06 June 2023
The fashion studios at Central Saint Martins | Photograph: Abdul Mohammed

Ever wondered how to make your own clothes? Whether you’re an aspiring fashion designer or a sewing novice, mastering the art of patternmaking is an important first step.

Our Patternmaking Level 1 Short Course is designed with the beginner in mind. Students learn the art of patternmaking and have the opportunity to use specialist equipment at Central Saint Martins.

During the course, students gain an understanding of pattern terminology and discover how to draw the correct information that should be on finished patterns.

To find out more, we caught up with short course student Ocean Teal (they/she). Ocean tells us about their experience on the course and discusses the importance of inclusivity in costume design.

Take a look at our full range of fashion making and pattern cutting short courses.

I chose the patternmaking short course because I wanted to learn the skill of creating patterns to increase my ability to include a variety of bodies in costume design.

— Ocean Teal, short course student

Ocean Teal is a photographer and costume design trainee for film and television. Ocean is currently part of the ‘Screen Start’ programme in Scotland; a new initiative designed to help under-represented communities find opportunities in the film and screen industry.

“I joined the Screen Start programme because I’ve wanted to work in the film industry, and specifically in costume design, since I was really young,” says Ocean. “I don’t often see people like me in decision-making roles, and as the saying goes, ‘you can’t be what you can’t see.’ Screen Start is designed to support groups who struggle to get into the film industry.”

Ocean’s creative practice is rooted in fine art but informed by all kinds of visual and performance arts. “I come from a fine art background and that affects my overall practice as it becomes much more multidisciplinary,” Ocean explains. “At the moment I’m focusing on patternmaking and costume design, which is informed by printmaking and drawing.”

Ocean is also currently interning with Gillie Jean King studio, a design studio that specialises in elaborate, bespoke costume wear for drag performers in Glasgow. “The queer community and the specific costume design for that is something I’m really interested in,” says Ocean.

Ocean Teal working in the studio at Central Saint MartinsOcean Teal in the studio at Central Saint Martins | Photograph: Abdul Mohammed
Ocean Teal in the studio at Central Saint Martins | Photograph: Abdul Mohammed

Inclusive design

Ocean’s interest in inclusive design is one of the reasons why the Patternmaking Level 1 Short Course appealed to them. “I chose the course because I wanted to learn the skill of creating patterns to increase my ability to include a variety of bodies in costume design,” says Ocean.

“People who are plus-sized or have mobility issues are often left out of roles because of special requirements that aren’t being met,” Ocean explains, “so I wanted to learn the skills needed to change that.”

Ocean felt that the positive and inclusive environment at Central Saint Martins worked well for students on the course. “The tutor’s approach and her ability to adjust to everybody’s needs and abilities was very satisfying to me," they tell us. "For a plus-sized person, it’s really important to feel safe to ask questions within fashion and costume because the industry is often heavily focused on specific types of bodies."

New opportunities

The patternmaking short course helped Ocean develop valuable skills which may be applied to their professional practice. “The course was definitely beneficial in terms of my career because the skills I have learnt will be useful on film sets and in design studios.”

“I have also learnt things that will support my own practice if I want to develop something that is not costume or set-based,” Ocean adds. “So I would say that it not only provided me with opportunities to get the work experience that I need, but also to develop my own ideas.”

“I would definitely recommend this course to others,” says Ocean. “I’m already trying to find ways to go to another short course here.”

Looking ahead

Ocean hopes to see positive change in the costume industry. “Inclusion is something that has to be based on listening and gathering feedback,’ they note.

“If you are a person with any sort of privilege, it is important to uplift the voices of underrepresented groups for them to be heard by more people,” says Ocean.

“Listen to the people around you and try to uplift their needs, especially if they’re less privileged than you.”

Feeling inspired? Read more about how to develop your textiles practice with a short course or discover how one student established their own tailoring business after completing three short courses at Central Saint Martins.

We offer a huge range of short courses covering everything from fine art and fashion design, to photography, journalism and architecture. Check out our upcoming short courses to find out what's coming up.

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