For the last two weeks I have had the pleasure of interning with Carole Waller.
It has been very hectic at times, and I have experienced things that no multi-million company could have offered me.
I am Faye Patterson – and I am currently studying my final year for a foundation degree in Fashion and Textiles at Bath Spa University, and I will be applying to a Textiles BA for my 3rd year of design. As my course is a mixed degree we’re constantly moving on to a new area of study, so I have not had as much opportunity to work with textiles. I would still like to pursue a career in it as I find it more exciting than the fashion elements of my course, which is why an internship with a textile designer has been incredibly helpful. Like Carole, I am an artist at heart and so her work on fabrics fascinated me.
During the first week I was taught new, invaluable skills. These included work with steam-set dyes, and learning how an abundance of materials can have dye transferred onto them (including Carole’s own beautifully coloured buttons). Being such a newcomer to textiles still, I didn’t realise how much work was needed to produce just a few metres of fabric. As an example, I was taught how to use a technique called Devoré, where mixed fibre fabric is treated so that a design is eaten away to reveal semi-transparent areas. There are several stages to completing this, making it both expensive and labour intensive. I also tried a few new finishing processes such as fringing, a simple skill but one that is useful to learn.
Carole had just received a new set of coats (part of her Winter Collection that was due to be finished that week) as she was working with a women’s association in Gujarat who use the traditional technique of Kantha stitch to quilt fabrics. She wanted to try their work out with a completely different coat shape – so I was tasked with copying a master pattern in order to send them the new design for manufacture. I also altered one of her shirt patterns to make it more suitable for winter. Internships rarely involve pattern cutting as it can be a difficult task so this was an amazing opportunity.
A photoshoot for her Winter collection at the new hotel, No.15 Great Pulteney, involved working with professionals from various backgrounds, and liaising with hotel staff to ensure we got as much photographed as possible in the little time we had. This also gave us the chance to discuss which photographs would be selected for her press release.
The most mundane of tasks are vital to the success of Carole’s collection: I leafletted, washed tables, ironed metres of silk, I ran errands, I worked on pricing new products, designing wrapping paper, and I mopped the floor. Working with someone who runs their own business allowed me to see the completion of the big picture.
Working at her shop, One Two Five Gallery, gave me the chance to discuss garments individually with customers and understand why certain shapes or colours worked well on certain people. It is hard to envision how a garment will look without first considering who the customer is, something that I struggled with as a designer. Carole’s clothes come to life on people because she has developed an affinity to do this, so watching her work on commissioned and stock pieces has been incredibly useful.
Working as any sort of designer incredibly hectic, especially since Carole had so many deadlines whilst I was interning. Just two weeks of working with her has given me skills that will be useful for a lifetime, and I now have a newfound appreciation for textiles
Faye Patterson August 26th 2017