In third year we had the opportunity to participate in different design competitions that helped us to step out of our comfort zone and develop new skills.  For the RSA competition I designed fabrics for the interiors of a community space that was going to bring different generations together to learn from each other and spend more time together.  Colour was the main focus of my research.  I went to the town centre to ask people about what they would like to have in a community space like this if it would exist and what colours would they prefer to see in the interiors.  I have read different books about colour theories and how different shades affect different age groups and people in general.  Colour remained a very important part of my projects since it helps me to describe different moods and provoke different emotions.

For the SDC competition we were asked to choose a trend forecast as an inspiration.  My choice was called ‘21st century avant-garde – a new rebellious renaissance, super hybrid art movements communicate a diverse message…with a punch of colour’.  I used my own photographs of the urban environment to create an interesting colour palette.  I also looked at different art movements and combined them into an eclectic design.  The message I was trying to communicate was based on my belief that we have to stop being selfish and ruining our environment.  Symbols and colour helped me to generate a special mood and tell a story.  I started to use Photoshop to combine drawings from my sketchbook and find the perfect compositions for my final designs. Photoshop became my main design tool for the Bradford competition since I really enjoyed the possibilities of trying out different things quickly and playing with colour.  I became confident about designing on a computer and even though I respect traditional techniques much more it is a great way to do quick experiments.

For my dissertation I carried out research on the harmful nature of the fashion industry.  Fast fashion puts a major pressure on people who produce the items and causes a lot of damage in the environment.  I was looking at different organisations and designers who try to fight against these issues.  I interviewed a social enterprise called Fox and BHut that sell ethical fashion items out of their caravan in St Andrews at eco-festivals and also visit universities to spread a message about sustainability.  Taking inspiration from this, in the future I would like to inform customers about my techniques and materials I use for my one-off fashion pieces and encourage them to buy unique hand made items that can be treasured for a long time instead of mass produced disposable ones.  In my dissertation I have considered setting up my own business to sell my products at eco-friendly festivals, as their audience seems to be a perfect niche market for my quirky designs.  Prior to this, I would like to further my experience by learning new skills and techniques in the professional textile industry.


During my research into sustainability I found out that upcycling is one of the most environmentally friendly ways of production, as it reduces textile waste and saves the water and energy used for the manufacture of raw materials.
It is also cost effective, as I discovered during my research there is a real need for quality, affordable, sustainable clothing.  I gather my source materials from charity shops and discarded second-hand items to give them a second life and turn them into one-off fashion garments.  There are several companies dealing in upcycled fashion by reconstructing existing pieces or putting existing patterned fabrics together.  However, very few produce reprinted garments and those that do produce mostly T-shirts.  In reported articles, the majority of consumers believe the only eco-friendly clothing currently available is organic cotton T-shirts and clothing which they found to be unfitted, rough to the touch, restricted in different styles and colours, and often described as ‘made for hippies’.  I am looking for soft, natural, plain materials to print my designs onto and re-construct them into one-off fashion pieces.  This allows me the opportunity to use unwanted domestic fabrics as well as clothing.


In the past few years I have used my photography of nature and the urban landscape as an inspiration.  It gave me the idea to use the contrast between natural and man-made environments to communicate a message.  First world modern society has had a major impact on planet Earth.  As time passes, our ‘disconnection’ with nature is increasingly changing our everyday life.  With my final designs I intend to raise globalization awareness and our responsibilities towards the planet.  I would like to capture the hidden nature of flora in the urban landscape and encourage people to realise the beauty and energy of plants.
My aim is to use techniques that have as little impact on the environment as possible.  

In semester one I used Photoshop to put together my drawings of buildings, scaffoldings and plants.  I was going to use digital prints because it does not come with any waste therefore safe for the ecosystem.  However, I realised that one of my strengths is free-hand drawing and therefore I have much more possibilities in traditional printing to create quirky designs instead of the sterile outcome of digital prints.  I experimented with non-toxic dyes but unfortunately their quality was not good enough for the fashion market.  I contacted the company that supplies the dyes we are using at the university to find out more about how harmful they actually are.  As it turned out they certified to use on organic fabrics so I can use them safely with a clear conscience for my project.  I have experimented with more harmful techniques like devore and discharging in the past and found them very useful to create unique textures and surfaces but in this project I stayed away from them.

The biggest challenge for me was to put together all the information I gathered in my sketchbooks without overcomplicating and overdoing my samples.  Therefore the most important skill I have learnt during this project is how to keep my designs simple but still have a quirky uniqueness about them.
As a final result I made bigger hand printed samples and shaped them into dress fronts to demonstrate their fashion context. It also allowed me to use them for photo shoots to represent my target audience.