City and Guilds 780 Fashion Parts I and II

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I studied fashion as a part-time mature student, at an Adult Education College in Battersea Park Road in London from 1985-1987.   It was a fantastic course, but sadly now discontinued, and the  building sold for luxury flats.



The building started life as a Polytechnic Institute, designed by E W Mountford in 1890. It was listed by English Heritage and this is a description from their website.

Long symmetrical Northern  Renaissance composition of 2-storeys, attic and Dutch gables. Red brick, stone dressings, tiled roof. Frontispiece of slightly advanced twin gabled pavilions framing main entrance bay.
Four-bay recessed ranges 2-storeys and attic link frontispiece to gabled end-pavilions. Each end-pavilion comprises on plan an inner segmental bay and an outer and more strongly-projecting square bay. Doric entrance porch with quadrant wings and high parapet, balustraded over the quadrants. Entablature of main door has swan-neck pediment and is flanked by sashes with high entablatures. Behind the porch parapet a round-arched first floor window framed in an Ionic aedicule. In frontispiece and linking ranges, attic pilaster order pierced by bull’s-eye windows and capped in frontispiece alone by complex swan-neck pediments. In the gabled pavilions these culminate in aedicules with statuary. Gabled end-pavilions also have attic order, with statuary in niches. Steep-pitched roof with open octagonal lantern, ogival cap and needle spire.

What an incredible building, and inspiring for students like me who enjoyed studying in the library with its stained glass windows.

The course was two years – part one and part two, and we attended two days a week. The three main tutors were: Mrs Margaret Tree, Mrs Judy Tregellan and Miss Gwen Plascott. They were amazingly skilled at their craft and the most determined and wonderful teachers.

I would love to find the curriculum for the course. The following are modules I remember:

Year one

  • Machine embroidery on a waistcoat
  • making a skirt
  • making a blouse
  • pattern cutting
  • designing and drawing skills
  • presenting your work (mounting etc)
  • common core (eg colour theory, health and safety)

Year two

  • craft skills
  • printing and dyeing
  • challenging fabrics
  • history of fashion
  • tailoring techniques
  • making a coat or jacket
  • hat making
  • glove making
  • fashion show
  • draping on the stand
final project City and Guilds
final project City and Guilds


The opportunity to study a challenging or difficult fabric in some depth was a key part of the second year. I really wanted to study elastane, Lycra, a modern fabric being used a lot by designers in the 80s. But Mrs Tregelles persuaded me to go with my second choice – Satin. This would enable me to study the history of silk. I had to do ten designs in satin, and this was the one I chose to make up. Inspired by the harlequin jacket I built the shaping into the patchwork, and flared the peplum by using godets. It was lined and bound in the blue silk.

The qualification enabled you to teach clothes-making classes in adult education. I kept my files and folders for years, but they were finally laid to rest just a few years before I became interested again.

I recently met Linda Powell who teaches pattern cutting at Morley college. She did the same course, in the 1970s, and we had fun reminiscing. There were about 20 people on the course when I was there and I would dearly love to hear from any of them.


14 Responses

  1. What a jacket! I’d love to see light shine off it.
    I’ve been told the Tuesday afternoon pattern-cutting course at Morley is very good (Linda?) but am not free then. One day, I’d love to do more courses there.

  2. Lucky you! what a fabulous building and the course you took…….well….I drool!!
    I too went back to school as an adult student , about ten years ago, I graduated when I was 50. A full time, 3 year course at the college “Fine Arts and Crafts”. We studied painting, fiber art, sculpture and print making. I took a fancy to sculpture and asked myself….why? why do I like sculpture so much?? Well…sewing is soft sculpture and I’ve always loved sewing! go figure :~ )) I’ve done some sculpture in stone, and really enjoyed it, I also love mixed media….3d always seems to surface in my work. However, I have seem to come full circle and am back to sewing. People don’t appreciate it the way they do my sculpture…but I live my life my way…and will sew if I want, sculpt stone when I want……..if you get my drift.
    I would love to study fashion sewing… maybe some day (Im not dead yet!) Also on a personal note…….. I have completed the cushions on my sofa, and my friends…now, its a matter of wrapping the frames…… I am anxious to get back to fashion sewing…..but in the mean time……….I am anxiously waiting to see your next project.
    Self taught sewing (my mother being inspirational)…and I did work at a costume and dance studio in my younger years.
    Joyce (Canada)

    • I have thought that doing an Art Foundation course where you try new things such as sculpture would be a great next step for me too Joyce. Well done to practice Lifelong Learning! Sometimes doing something you have not done before turns out to be marvellous; I once registered for carpentry by mistake but came to really enjoy it. This term my main lesson was that although I resisted synthetics I came to appreciate them by being “forced” to work with them. The comfort zone is not wear learning takes place. I would love to see photographs of your upholstery Joyce.


    Me TOO! I did the same course a few years later without Ms Tree. She had just retired & called into to keep in touch with her students & colleagues, Lovely ladies & brilliant, generous teachers.

  4. Hello Jill. SO nice to hear from you. What are you doing now?


    I have returned to study/refresh my tailoring skills at Morley college. It is week 2 of a 2 part 12 week course. Very daunting as learning different methods of the same techniques. Realising how brilliant the structure of adult education was. It allowed to learn skills comprehensively rather than in this new ‘chopped about’ structure. Trying not to be too ‘roseate glowing’.ss in past experiences……………….

  6. I also was on this C&G course in the late 1980s. I was the one that liked breaking all the rules when it came to sewing and designing. I would love to hear from you by e-mail


  7. I also was on this C&G course in the late 1980s.

    I was the one that liked breaking all the rules when it came to designing and sewing.

    I would love to hear from you by email.


  8. Helen Ormerod

    Hi, I did this course around the late 80s followed by an art foundation and degree in fashion at the Middlesex university. I currently run a level 3 fashion extended diploma in Loughton. I have fond memories of this course and really gained from the technical aspect which held me in good stead with my further studies and current job. I certainly remember Mrs Tregellan and Gwen Plascott. I think the other teacher was called Margaret. I remember Genevieve and Ruth on the course but have sadly lost contact with them. Kind regards Helen Ormerod ( Davies at the time)

    Would also love to hear from anyone that remembers me or that I could help in anyway.

    • Margaret Tree taught me, but I think she retired very soon afterwards. I am so glad that you got in touch, and that you managed to pursue a career in fashion. I remember Brenda Hall, Ouija, Anastasia Minvielle, Rachel, and one man in my year.

  9. What a magnificent environment for learning! Very romantic in a way. I also returned to school as an adult, but in Art History. How I’d love to take a course on dressmaking, design, color theory, etc. I wonder if a large number of people who sew for themselves have a similar education? Must investigate……

    • fabrickated

      Thanks Jennifer. I would say that very few people seem to have been to college for this sort of learning, as it required quite a time commitment, and in my case, the costs of a childminder. I also did lots of evening classes, and I still do. But many people seem to learn from their Mum or Grandma, books, one to one with an experienced seamstress, trial and error, and increasingly the internet and videos. Personally I find adult ed wonderful and will keep going until I get very old…

  10. Tessa Blackhall

    I taught on the C&G course at Battersea from around 1978-82 (approx!): it was my first experience of teaching and I loved it!
    I have always kept in touch with Gwen Plascott but having moved 3 times in the past year, I have lost many things, including her address. Does anyone have it? postcode would do….

  11. Hi Tessa – I am not in touch with her but I understood she was still involved with an embroidery or sewing organisation or group. Linda Powell, who teaches Pattern Cutting at Morley college, may know more if you want to contact her.

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