In the Autumn term of 2015 TRAID Education visited Raines Foundation School students to launch the start of their ‘Metamorphosis’ project. The aim of the live brief was to creatively re-purpose and completely transform – upcycle – an unwanted men’s shirt and introduce students to consider some of the current problems, and discuss solutions within the global textile supply chain.

The results were highly impressive and imaginative, challenging the students to approach design and fabric differently with consideration of limited resources, form a deeper understanding of garment construction and deconstruction and interpret the shirt in a way that reflected their individual personalities.

As part of a series of blog posts, Raines Foundation School BTEC Level 3 Fashion students write about their experiences and how they created their finished ‘Metamorphosis’ garments.

We start this blog series with Georgia Walsh, Year 13 fashion student who, since completing this project, has just discovered she has been accepted onto her chosen fashion design course at the University of East London with high commendations and a special mention to her upcycled ‘Metamorphosis’ shirt. Well done Georgia!

Recycled Checked Shirt by Georgia Walsh:

Sarah from TRAID visited us in October to invite BTEC 3 students in Year 12 and 13 to take part in a renewable shirt project. We were given a group of shirts to transform how we liked and applying our skills to an open brief. The idea behind this is to show the public that an old garment does not have to be thrown away because of a hole or stain. You can transform that hole or stain by putting another piece of fabric on top of it or by sewing the hole up to gather the fabric creating a repetitive pattern.

When making my shirt I started to revamp it by taking the original sleeves off and making them into a hood which turned out to look very medieval. So from this point onwards I wanted to carry on with the medieval style, this inspired me to research and have a look at different types of colours and fashion trends and styles in the medieval era. I found that green was a common colour in the medieval period but also wanted to combine it with a modern twist.

I decided to try a dip-dye effect or ombre dye. I started with the hood, using green dye by using an elastic band to scrunch up the hood and wrap the bands around it tights, to create a dip-dyed effect. To co-ordinate with the green hood I continued the dip-dying process to the bottom of the shirt. By leaving the shirt hemline in the bucket of green dye overnight, the ombre effect was created. Next day I rinsed out the surplus dye and left it to dry.

Georgia Walsh, Raines Foundation Student documents the dip-dye process and toiling on the mannequin with the shirt to form new silhouettes.
Georgia Walsh, Raines Foundation Student documents the dip-dye process and toiling on the mannequin with the shirt to form new silhouettes.

The outcome was a faded emerald green which was a different green to the hood but it worked as a colour balance with the original fabric in between. The next stage, I replaced the sleeves by constructing a new pattern from the old sleeves by measuring the width and length to form the new sleeves. I still wanted to keep the green colour scheme intact with my shirt to compliment the three different types of green I had used throughout my shirt.

I chose a light green sari silk style of fabric that had gold trimmings at the end of the cuffs. In the final stages of my shirt I sewed the hood onto the shirt neck and made the pocket out of the same material I used for the sleeves.

As I considered the shirt in front of me on the stand, I manipulated the edges of the hood to make a dramatic stand up neckline which was a powerful silhouette. I decided that the centre front needed trimming in the gold and green braided pattern. Lastly I made a decorative pocket out of the sari silk to replace the standard shirt pocket and I spied some small holes which I covered with the brocade gold borders too.

A selection of photos taken by Georgia Walsh showcasing the transformation of the men's shirt
A selection of photos taken by Georgia Walsh showcasing the transformation of the men’s shirt

This shirt is part of “Metamorphosis” which forms a practical part of a BTEC Level 3 Fashion brief. Metamorphosis is to change from one thing into another. The TRAID shirt project is exactly that. This has made me look at parts of a garment in a different ways – making sleeves into a hood, I would not have thought about before. It was a really interesting design process as it was an exercise in forms and shapes as well as using defects as design features or disguising them by design.

The TRAID talk has made me think a lot about the over- production of fashion and how this impacts on the world. The process of re-using or re-working old clothes is not something I have done before but I certainly will again. It is fascinating and deconstruction is a great way of making patterns too. For all of us involved we are going to approach our design work with more experimentation like this to explore the 3D possibilities on the stand and within garment parts.

A selection of Raines Foundation students work was showcased in the window of TRAID Dalston.