Re:Fashion Challenge 2023

Re:Fashion is about doing fashion differently. It’s about rejecting fast fashion and embracing a conscious and sustainable approach to garment production. We aim to teach young people the skills needed to make clothes from scratch or to take an old garment and make it unique.

Finlay Maguire, one of this year’s participants, modelling the garments he created.

The ethos of slow fashion is to develop clothing with a cultural and emotional connection so that consumers keep an article of clothing longer than one season. If you make it yourself – maybe you will want to keep it forever and the most sustainable garment is the one you already own.

Sustainable fashion designer, Stella McCartney says that young people want change:

“Tomorrow’s generation has a huge voice and a massive power for change. They’re consuming in a very different way—reselling and renting. It’s mostly young people that understand this urgency for change.” 

And sustainability doesn’t mean sacrificing style. Clothes “should just look great and be wonderful to have in your life.”

“We need to re-learn the value of craftmanship and embrace hand-made techniques to be able to pass these skill’s down through generations, this way we will learn to love our garments more, because loved clothes last longer.”

Amanda Odlin, Fashion tutor, University of Central Lancashire

In this exhibition we focus on how you can use pattern, colour and embellishment as a tool for refashioning and upcycling your clothes. Below you can see the results of the Re:Fashion Challenge 2023 and read about buying local, using not losing our markets, and the wonderful resources that can be found in scrap stores and charity shops.

Participants of the challenge studying examples of historical textiles to gain inspiration for their own garments.

A digital zine has been created to accompany this exhibition which can be viewed here.

Exhibition Credits:
Thanks to all of our amazing participants.
Mentors Jacob Connelly, Zainab Faisal, Kirsteen McGregor and Sundas Javed
Jack Bolton, our photographer
GTC volunteer Denise Hayhurst, for your help with the Challenge
Panaz who sponsored the prizes for the Re: Fashion Challenge

The National Lottery Heritage Fund, British Textile Biennial, UCLan Research Centre for Cultural Preservation through Creative Practice, and Gawthorpe Textiles Collection for their funding and support.

The technique of transfering colour and pattern onto fabric is one of the oldest recorded craft techniques. Archaeologists have found fragments of textile dyed cloth that used earth, bark, roots and insects to add colour and marks dating as far back as the Neolithic period. The process of natural dyeing has changed very little over the years and ancient techniques are still used today that were discovered in Africa, China and Japan. Luckily samples held within the Gawthorpe Textile Collection (GTC) can show us more recent examples of many of these ancient techniques and some of these samples inspired our theme this year.

Each mentor identified an aspect of pattern or embellishments that they would like to see examples of from the collection.  We looked at beautiful examples of Chintz fabrics and Indian embroidery, Paisley patterned bandanas that had been embroidered and embellished, reverse appliquéd Molas from Panama and examples of neat precise geometric patchwork and applique from England.

Some of the items that the participants were inspired by are shown below, followed by images of the work they created and modelled.

We showed examples of indigo dyed fabric from China and Japan and tie dye techniques from West Africa which involves folding, pleating, twisting fabrics before binding or stitching patterns before dyeing. These hand-made designs can create the most beautiful patterns which can be linked back to specific towns or villages, with techniques passed down from generation to generation.

Image shows a sample of cotton dyed with indigo using the ‘tie and dye’ technique and a sample showing how the same technique looks prepared for dyeing

Date: 1900-1960
Origin: West Africa
Venue: Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

Date: 1900 – 1960
Origin: China
Dimensions: H 57 x W 33cm
Venue: Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

This apron for a small child was produced in China and uses a simple indigo resist dyeing technique to create a bold and effective pattern with just two colours. The process involves a resist paste being either printed, stencilled or painted onto the cloth to block dye from penetrating the fibres. Once the cloth has been dyed the resist paste is removed to reveal the final pattern. This technique is well suited to creating patterns a huge variety of patterns and effects and it is widely practiced across the globe with different countries favouring different combinations of materials for the dye and resist substances.

Date: 1992
Origin: Japan
Dimensions: H 21 x W 20cm
Venue: Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

The word sashiko translates to “little stabs” and describes the many tiny stitches used to form intricate repeating patterns. The stitching is traditionally worked in white cotton thread on indigo dyed fabrics.

It is a craft that has been practiced for centuries that originally evolved as a practical technique using small running stitches to patch, reinforce and repair worn out textiles so they could continue to be used. Over time the simple lines of running stitches became more complex and formed patterns and motifs; developing into a technique that perfectly combines practicality and decoration. This sashiko sample inspired decorative stitching on a leather jacket created as part of this challenge.

Date: c.1963
Origin: United Kingdom
Dimensions: H 25 x W 63cm
Venue: Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

This is a detail from a set of beautifully worked patchwork samples created by Alice Timmins; who is described by the original collector’s label as “a greatly skilled embroideress in Lancashire”.

They are examples of precise, geometric designs using the English paper piecing technique, where card or paper shapes are covered with fabric before being stitched together along the edges. Some of the motifs also show examples of “fussy cutting” where the shapes are carefully cut from the fabric so that the same part of the printed design appears in the same place on each shape.

Date: c.1963
Origin: United Kingdom
Dimensions: H 25 x W 63cm
Venue: Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

This is a detail from a set of beautifully worked patchwork samples created by Alice Timmins; who is described by the original collector’s label as “a greatly skilled embroideress in Lancashire”.

They are examples of precise, geometric designs using the English paper piecing technique, where card or paper shapes are covered with fabric before being stitched together along the edges. Some of the motifs also show examples of “fussy cutting” where the shapes are carefully cut from the fabric so that the same part of the printed design appears in the same place on each shape.

Date: c.1950-1970
Origin: Panama or Colombia
Dimensions: H 29 x W 36cm
Venue: Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

Reverse appliqué mola is a textile art form from several groups of people indigenous to Panama and Colombia. The work is made using the reverse appliqué method, where multiple colourful layers of fine cotton fabric are layered and then precisely cut away in sections to create finely detailed patterns before the edges are turned under a tiny amount and carefully stitched in place.

Many of the interlocking and geometric shapes used in the designs originate from the traditional body painting practiced by these groups, which was adapted onto clothing after the influence of Spanish colonisation and interactions with European missionaries.

Date: c.1950-1970
Origin: Panama or Colombia
Dimensions: H 29 x W 36cm
Venue: Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

Even in this detail from the above item the fine stitching securing each cut layer of fabric can hardly be seen as it has been worked so neatly. The design is further enhanced with additional touches of embroidery worked in chain stitch.

Date: 1850 – 1870
Origin: United Kingdom
Dimensions: 150 x 80cm
Venue: Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

The print used on this fabric is a good example of how the bold shade of Turkey Red dye was often combined with Paisley motifs, which had developed by the mid to late 19th century into increasingly curved cone shapes filled with additional patterning. Originally a traditional Indo-Persian motif known as the boteh or buta, these cone shapes were copied from Kashmiri shawls made in India by manufacturers in the town of Paisley in Scotland and the town’s name became synonymous with this style of pattern.

Date: c.1870-1890
Origin: United Kingdom
Dimensions: 70 x 77cm
Venue: Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

Elaborately patterned bandanas in simple colour combinations were mass-produced during the second half of the 19th century as functional accessories for labourers. They were especially popular with farm and railroad workers in the USA and their patterns often combined design elements from around the world that reflected the multi-cultural background of this workforce.

The colourful, exuberant patterns also appealed to Victorian ladies and there was a fashion towards the end of the 19th century for ladies to embroider the bandanas in brightly coloured silk and cotton threads. Sometimes the underlying pattern was followed carefully, other times the embroiderer put their own spin on the pattern.

Alongside these traditional craft techniques we have seen a modern twist on creating pattern on the catwalks, still labour-intensive but incorporating highly decorative techniques and prints. There is a move away from the reliance on digital printing and more emphasis on hand-painted print, also modern takes on applique and embroidery.

Moodboard courtesy of UCLan Fashion Design

This year we saw many UCLan Fashion Design students researching into their own cultural heritage to inspire pattern, embellishement, colour, design detail and silhouette resulting in highly personal final collections. Trends also include using zero-waste elements to develop pattern design, applique using scraps of fabrics, folding and pleating rather than cutting fabrics, upcycling buttons to create bold decorative patterns and reusing upcycled garments to form new designs and interesting morphed silhouettes.

Moodboard courtesy of UCLan Fashion Design

This collection focused on polka dot and stripes with an 80’s flare.  The team were tasked with creating graphic patterns through fabric collage.

Model: Daisy Sharp
Garments by: Yasmine Winstanley, Sarwat Yasmeen & Maryam Jameel

Model: Daisy Sharp
Garments by: Yasmine Winstanley, Sarwat Yasmeen & Maryam Jameel

Model: Imogen Osbaldeston
Garments by: Yasmine Winstanley, Sarwat Yasmeen & Maryam Jameel

Model: Jasmine Du Plessis
Garment by: Jasmine Du Plessis

This collection is influenced by traditional Japanese crafts of Sashiko stitching, Boro patchwork, Shibori dyeing and origami.

Model: Stella Phillips
Garment by: Stella Phillips

Model: Stella Phillips
Garment by: Stella Phillips

Model: Finlay Maguire
Garment by: Finlay Maguire

Model: Finlay Maguire
Garments by: Finlay Maguire

Model: India Barata
Garment by: India Barata

Model: India Barata
Garments by: India Barata

This collection draws on a love of paisley patterns, embroidery and broken jewellery.

Model: Daisy Sharp
Garment by: Daisy Sharp

Model: Daisy Sharp
Garment by: Daisy Sharp

Model: Rubi Ashcroft
Garment by: Rubi Ashcroft

Model: Rubi Ashcroft
Garment by: Rubi Ashcroft

Model: Eloise Crossley
Garment by: Eloise Crossley

Model: Eloise Crossley
Garment by: Eloise Crossley

This collection is inspired by traditional geometric patterns with a contemporary twist of hearts and stars influenced by the girls’ heartthrob, Harry Styles.  The team used appliqué, reverse appliqué, embroidery and painted pattern.

Model: Imogen Osbaldeston
Garment by: Imogen Osbaldeston

Model: Imogen Osbaldeston
Garment by: Imogen Osbaldeston

Model: Yasmine Winstanley
Garments by: Ajwa Idris

Model: Ella Button
Garments by: Ella Button and Ruby Gaines

Model: Ella Button
Garments by: Ella Button and Ruby Gaines

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