Cutting-edge concepts by DMU fashion students recognised by historic livery company

Experimental knitwear designs have earned fashion and textiles students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) valuable bursaries from a prestigious livery company.

Impressing a panel of judges with their innovative ideas, Anna Breward, Anna Thorn and Kate Toogood were awarded a combined total of £6,000 from The Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters, whose history in supporting the industry dates back to 1589.

Sample boards which helped earn Anna Breward her bursary

Fashion Design student Anna Breward was recognised with the £3,000 David Bethel Bursary to help develop her sustainable approach to creating new designs using industry waste.

The 23-year-old from Hartlepool said: “I'm over the moon to have won a bursary. The money is hugely helpful, especially paired with the offer of programming training on Shima Seiki knitting machines. The whole opportunity has been incredibly exciting."

“I’ve always been interested in learning more about the programming side of knitwear, so getting industry standard training is aa great prospect, which could open so many doors in future.”

Completing multiple internships with different knitwear brands, and a work placement year which included factory experience, inspired Breward’s award-winning idea.

“Our industry is so wasteful. Every season, all the knitted samples are discarded, so I’ve suggested utilising them to design new patchwork garment collections. The samples can be cut and relinked together to make new products with minimum labour required and at a low cost,” she said.

Breward has come a long way since an ongoing health condition forced her to drop out of university when she first started her degree in 2017.

She said: “I was too ill to continue, but I came back and five years later I’m feeling confident in myself. My placements have given me so much valuable knowledge and I’m grateful for our amazing lecturers at DMU too.”

Garment submission by Anna Thorn that impressed the judges

Anna Thorn, a Fashion Textile Design student, took home the £1,500 Howard Ellis Bursary for her innovative experiments into ways of setting knitwear into shapes.

Making use of a wide range of DMU’s extensive workshops enabled Thorn to explore how materials such as leather, plastic and metal can affect the way knitwear drapes.

“DMU’s facilities are second-to-none, so we’re very lucky in that sense. I absolutely loved trying out as many specialisms as I could, because I’m interested in combining the traditional discipline of knitwear with more modern technologies,” said the 21-year-old from Derbyshire.

Thorn’s prize-winning garment utilises elastic to shape her fluid knitwear and features metal shoulder and belt details. She said: “Winning this bursary is a massive confidence boost for me.

“With no previous textiles experience and lower A-level grades than expected, I ended up enrolling at DMU through Clearing and I feel like it took me a couple of years to prove to myself that I was good enough.

“To have my tutor put me forward for this award in the first place was really special, and to then be recognised by industry professionals for my work was a proud moment.”

Knitted sample a part of Kate Toogood's entry

Textile Design student Kate Toogood was awarded the £1,500 Rouse Bursary for her technical and aesthetic understanding, which she demonstrated through samples made on both a domestic machine and a computerised Shima Seiki machine.

“My idea came from a construction site I could see from my bedroom window. I got to see an original building being demolished and a new one being built, from the foundations and steel structure, to the bricks eventually being placed in,” said the 21-year-old from Bristol.

The experience inspired Toogood to experiment with different techniques to reflect what she saw, such as partial knitting to reflect the idea of seeing through things, as well as layering.

She said: “It was a surprise to hear that I had won an award because the process was tough, but it feels great to be recognised like this.

“The money will help pay for good quality materials so I can design and produce responsibly, and being matched with a mentor will give me insights that will be hugely beneficial after I graduate.”

Posted on Tuesday 1st March 2022

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