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.


22 Responses

  1. sew2pro

    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. Joyce

    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)

    • fabrickated

      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.


    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……………….

  5. angelamhlope

    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


  6. angelamhlope

    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.


  7. 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.

    • fabrickated

      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.

  8. Jennifer

    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…

  9. 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….

  10. fabrickated

    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.

  11. Bobbie Seagroatt

    Hi! I just found this website on casually googling the name ‘Gwen Plascott’. She was my pattern cutting teacher at Ravensbourne College in Bromley, Kent when I started in 1972 – a million years ago!
    I teach pattern cutting mostly (some sewing), make bespoke wedding dresses (mostly), and paint oil paintings of wedding dresses as wedding present commission service.

    I would love to contact ‘Miss Plascott’ as we had to call her (!), and thank her for being a ‘dragon’ when she taught us!!
    It seems that Tessa Blackhall is / was in touch, so I would be grateful for any details to at least write a letter. She must be pretty old by now?!

    Believe it or not, I still have most of the blocks that I made at college under Miss Plascott’s direction! l look forward to hearing from someone here about Gwen Plascott.

    Bobbie Seagroatt My website:

    • tessa

      Hi Bobbie

      our paths must have crossed at some point as i was at Ravensbourne 1974-77, starting off in Bromley then moving onto Chislehurst. Were you in Bruce’s (Oldfield) year? i think he may still be in touch with Miss P.
      I remained in touch with a lot of the staff, in particular Vicky Mockett, and still keep up with many of my contemporaries.
      Has Seagroatt always been your surname? i do recall a Bobbie but the surname is not familiar.

      • Bobbie Seagroatt

        Hi Tessa! how nice to hear from someone who knew Miss Plascott (!) and was at Ravensbourne 🙂

        I was there 72 – 76. Not in Bruce Oldfield’s year, or Zandra Rhodes who were both before me… I’m pretty sure.

        My surname then was Watson – was yours Hall? Did Vicky teach some kind of drawing – either life drawing or still life? I did some great plant drawings there in oil pastel, and the head lady, Dolly Foster (!) had one in her office for a term….hyacinths they were.

        Miss Plascott must be about 90 now? I’m assuming she taught you?


        • Tessa Blackhall

          Hi Bobbie
          Nice to hear back from you.
          Vicky must have taught drawing then, as she took us for drawing and print. Dolly Foster retired during our first year and after a sit in and rant against the machine, as you do, a new woman took over (Andrea Dymond) and changed the course to straight Fashion.
          Do you remember Anna Watson? You might also have known Tim Foster who was there the same time as you (Graphics).
          My name has always been the same!

          • Bobbie Seagroatt

            Hi Tessa,

            When I was Ravensbourne, John and Louise Chapple took us for photography and print respectively, and John also helped a lot with print, as he and Louise had their own printing company, I think… did you have them? They taught at Chislehurst as well…yes, I remember Andrea Dymond, but not much about her. Dolly Foster seemed sweet to me – a bit like your Auntie (!), and she did seem quite old when I was there, so probably near retirement.
            Yes, I remember Anna Watson – always seemed to be a bit of a troubled character, and liked to pull you apart in crits!
            Don’t think I knew Tim Foster??? – the only people I knew in Graphics, were two lads from Manchester who were fun, and my best friend’s boyfriend, Nick. tall, very good looking..:-)

            Did you have Jackie and Tim teaching design? Tall lady, short hair, little bloke who wore jumpers and tweeds?!

            What do you do now, Tessa??

          • Tessa Blackhall

            Hi Bobbie

            Yes we also had John and Louise teaching us: John was the print technician and Louise was our textile design tutor. My boyfriend at the time and I worked with them on some projects when we had graduated but it all went a bit sour.
            I was friends with Anna for some time but she grew increasingly ‘difficult’, so we lost touch.
            Jackie and Tim were there but she left to have a baby and he continued, along with Victor Herbert, then Andrea took over design.
            You might remember my ex as he was very loud! (Ken Walker) and another friend in the year above me was Caroline Cross Brown. You must have been 2 years ahead of me?
            I took up teaching in 1978 with miss P although continued with freelance work in both fashion and textiles. I’ve just finished a contract with Croydon college, as course leader for BA Fashion, and have been in partnership for the past 3 years doing similar stuff to you! Wedding outfits, mainly for the LBGT community but not exclusively. We are at (i think! We changed it recently and can’t remember if that’s the old address!!!)

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