Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

Sewing bee bridal challenge for students

Fashion students at Nottingham College have been working on a design challenge set by a specialist wedding boutique in Chilwell. Mary Jeremiah from The Wedding Room donated three wedding dresses to the Level 3 Fashion & Textiles students, then set them the challenge to transform them into something new and exciting.

The project takes inspiration from TV shows such as The Great British Sewing Bee. Mary will choose her favourite after they are showcased at the annual Nottingham College Catwalk Fashion Shows on Monday 17 June.

Over the course of a month, the students have undertaken a full transformation challenge.

They have drawn upon skills learned on their course, including: deconstruction and re-construction, pattern cutting, embellishment, and fabric dying. The wedding dresses have been upcycled to either meet current on-trend wedding styles or become something completely new.

Fashion student Sarah Kirk, 17, from Kirkby-in-Ashfield, is working in a group to rework a wedding dress while challenging traditional gender stereotypes. She said:

“We wanted to make a garment that shows you don’t have to stick to traditional ideas of what makes something bridal. So we’ve made part of the top of the dress more like a smart suit, as well as the more traditional parts.”

Sarah added: “I’ve loved the project and I’m really excited about the fashion show. I love altering clothes anyway as I do this myself when I’m not at College.”

Niah Thomas from Basford is interested in having her own clothing line one day, but first she’s planning on going to university. The seventeen-year-old said:

“Mary Jeremiah knows a lot about the fashion industry. She’s helped me figure out what I would like to do in the future. The Lecturers on the course are very helpful too, and they also have a lot of industry knowledge.”

Sixteen-year-old Ernest Mason from East Leake said:

“Giving us the opportunity to work under a tight time frame, and to be less guided in our learning, meant we needed to be more intuitive and learn problem-solving and varied skills.

“I thought it was really good opportunity to speak to Mary about her career and find out about a successful local business.”

Mandi Chandler, Nottingham College Faculty Area Manager for Art, Design and Fashion, said:

“This commercial partnership is a great way to help our students develop skills for their future careers. Mary has generously shared her experience and insight with the group which has been fantastic.”

Mary, who worked in the fashion and textiles industry for 20 years before setting up The Wedding Room in 2012, said:

“The students have embraced this project with enthusiasm and creativity. It was good to see their initial design ideas carried through to transforming the dresses into exciting new pieces. I can’t wait to see how the garments move on the catwalk.

“These are the designers of tomorrow and so it's great to give them an opportunity to see what careers are available to them in the future.”

The College’s Creative End of Year Shows, including the catwalk fashion show, are open to the public. More information can be found on the event pages of the College’s website.

For our end of year show information and tickets:

Picture Caption: Mary Jeremiah (back second from left), student Sarah Kirk (centre) and tutor Deirdre Robbins (back second from right) with some of the group and their dresses

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