TURNING scrap fabrics into eye-catching and colourful clothes and showcasing them in the places where they were dyed and woven.
That was the challenge set for a group of textile students and there was no better place to come to carry out their project than Langholm.
The Carlisle College students were hosted by Judith Johnson of the Langholm Initiative’s Weaving a Future for Eskdale project.
They embarked on their
Re-generate-ion campaign with a tour of FTS Dyers, Kynoch and Drove Weaving in
Under the theme of Old Habits – Never Dye, the students got an insight into the whole process of design, dyeing and weaving as well as learning about the history of the textile industry in Langholm from the late 18th century onwards.
They also heard there was now a desire to highlight and celebrate the history of the
industry and its future through the revival of small-scale
During their visit they were given pieces of material, both tweed and tartan, and challenged to turn them into items of clothing.
They decided that, once their creations were made, they would return to Langholm, having been impressed by its built environment as a possible backdrop to a photoshoot to display what they had made.
They returned last week with models to do a photo-shoot in the dyehouse. Among them was Ben Ewart, former Langholm Academy pupil.
He made a long coat with cloth from Reid & Taylor and a corset using material from Drove Weaving.
He said: “My theme was about the frustration of living in a town more in its past than in its present.
“I incorporated the traditional aspects of a riding jacket in the coat and the corset represents the floral crown but I made it crunchier and more contemporary.”
Sophie McNichol wore an outfit designed by Robin McLaughlin who said: “I was inspired by synthetic fibres which are like plastic. The outfit is like that worn by a warrior with big shoulders. I’m pleased with it.”
Naomi Babaita, whose design was worn by her sister, Luiza, looked at the tartans worn by the different clans.
She was inspired by the story of Sawney Bean’s clan which lived in caves as outcasts.
His wife was supposed to be a witch so Naomi did some research on Scottish witches and learned that in Langholm they were tortured on the Kilngreen.
She said: “If a woman looked different from others, she was thought to be a witch. I wanted to design something which empowers women. I used material from Reid & Taylor and Linton Tweeds.”
The students were with their course tutor, Wendy Oxley, who said: “They were under a very tight timescale to complete this project.
“They had to put together digital and physical portfolios for their applications to university and college and they had only two weeks to complete them.
“They had one week to do the research, in between sampling and designing, followed by a week of making.
“They have certainly experienced pressure and they have taken ownership of the work. I’m incredibly proud of them.
“They did good research, linking the industry in the mills alongside. They also learned about sustainability, the carbon footprint and chemical dyeing.
“Their previous visit here
expanded their knowledge and this underpinned their designs and the conceptual elements of the garments.”
She added: “It’s incredibly important to keep this industry in the UK, keep the jobs alive and make sure the traditions never die.”
Judith said: “They are upcycling and recycling the waste material which would otherwise go into landfill.
“It’s great to get young people excited about Scottish textiles again.”
Judith hopes to bring an exhibition of the students’ work to Langholm this year.