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Behind the Scenes of the Fashion & Textiles Store

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The Museum Collective is group of young people aged 15-14, who meet regularly at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. One of the activities on offer to this group is regular creative workshops, inspired by our collections and buildings. Recently the group had a behind the scenes tour of the Museum’s Fashion & Textiles store, and were treated to a peek at the extensive fashion collection dating from the 16th century to present day.

Feeling inspired, the group decided they’d like to have a go themselves, and booked Traid to come and do a workshop with them in the Easter holidays. Traid are a fantastic charity working to stop clothes being thrown away.

Museum Collective member Elizabeth Carr, aged 18 will tell you more……

Most people don’t appreciate where our clothes come from, and t-shirts are especially bad for the environment. The making of one t-shirt uses as much water as we drink in 3 years! There’s also issues with the ways in which they are made – sweatshops and workers’ rights spring to mind but I’m sure there are many more issues to worry about.

So, if you’re going to buy t-shirts, it’s important to make the most of them, so upcycling is a great skill to have, and I’m really glad that Traid were able to teach us. One of the best things we discovered was how to make t-shirt yarn, which is very versatile. The easiest thing to do with your yarn is finger knitting, which we all managed to some degree – this can make jewellery, belts and handles for bags among other things. If you have something to weave on then yarn can also be woven.

The other key item we looked at making was a t-shirt bag. This was surprisingly easy, just a matter of cutting sleeves off and sewing up the bottom of the t-shirt. You could embellish them by sewing on other fabric or embroidering.

As soon as I got home, I wanted to share my newfound skills with my family and managed to find some old t-shirts – now I have a knitted t-shirt belt, two t-shirt bags and lots of yarn! If you ever get an opportunity to do an upcycling workshop, I would definitely recommend it!

Elizabeth Carr, Museum Collective member