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:
- 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)
- 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
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.