Inspirational Textiles: Woven textiles at the Arts Degree Show

Two woven fabric samples in a bright orange, yellow and blue colour palette

Textiles: Innovation & Design – weave

Recently I visited the Arts Degree Show at Loughborough University. This is an opportunity for the final year students to display the best of their work for public view. At Loughborough University there are four BA Arts degrees:

  • 3D Design: New Practice;
  • Fine Art;
  • Graphic Communication and Illustration;
  • Textiles: Innovation & Design.

I’m going to focus on work by students taking a Textiles degree. These students can specialise in Multi-media, Printed or Woven textiles. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to show you inspiring work by students from all three specialities. Firstly, let’s look at the work of students specializing in Woven textiles.

The Woven Textiles pathway has a fantastic reputation, nationally and internationally. Students work on a variety of looms including hand and electronic looms. You can find out more about BA Textiles at Loughborough University.

Emily Mortimer-Barker

First I’m going to show you some of Emily’s hand woven fabric collection because I love the vibrancy of her colour palette. Such happy colours!

Emily’s designs were inspired by Japanese gardens and the bold colours and patterns in kimono fabrics, so she used silks and viscose since colours in these fibres are vivid and bright.

Two woven fabric samples in a bright orange, yellow and blue colour palette

Holly Bray

Holly showed some of her beautiful fabrics as cushions. This is another lovely cheerful colour palette.

Holly’s interior collection, ‘Celestial Chroma’, was inspired by Peterborough Cathedral. The patterns in her weaves were inspired by the ornate detail of this medieval building, while her colour palette was inspired by stained glass windows and the highly decorative ceilings. The patterns remind me of Fair Isle knitting.

Holly was a runner up in the Good Weave Student Rug Design Competition (2013). She also exhibited her woven textiles at Première Vision, Paris (2015 & 2016) and Decorex, London (2013).

Three cushions made from samples of woven fabrics in pink and yellow colour palette

Martha Gerring-Smith

In contrast Martha used a more subtle colour palette to create a fabric collection with a sense of calm.

Martha’s designs were inspired by structured, repetitive architecture. She also researched patterns, textures and colours preferred by children with autism, which informed her final collection of fabric for interiors.

Several woven fabric samples hanging from a rail

Georgia Edmiston

Georgia also used subtle colours for her weave, this time in contrast with deep grey to create striking patterns. They work really well together.

Georgia’s woven interior textiles collection was inspired by the textures and colours found in industrial environments.

Georgia had a placement at Open Door Interiors.

Several woven fabric samples hanging in front of a window so light passes through the lighter areas

Eliza Dawson

Eliza also used a subtle colour palette, as well as some vibrant pops of colour. The weave in the photo below is my favourite.

Eliza was inspired by the breathtaking landscapes of the French Alps in the summer time. She looked at rural buildings, bridges and grand gateways in contrast with light mountain backgrounds. Hence her final weaves have a soft watercolour element with bold and detailed patterns.

Eliza was a Standfast and Barracks competition winner.

Detail of woven fabric sample in muted green and beige colour palette

Matilda Ryley-Hicks

I love how Matilda has displayed her beautiful collection of fabric for menswear on cherry pickers’ ladders.

Matilda was inspired by the weathered and distressed walls in and around her home town of Bowdon, particularly faded graffiti and the effects of natural foliage on walls. She used unusual combinations of colours and weave structures in a mix of traditional and modern yarns to portray the breakdown of uniformity in weathered walls.

Matilda won The Stuart Hollander Scholarship 2016 from The Worshipful Company of Weavers. She also won the H&M Live Project, was Highly Commended by the Bradford Textiles Society Competition (2016) as well as winning the second prize for the British Wool category from the Bradford Textiles Society Competition (2016). Matilda had placements at Next plc (Leicester) and Lynton Tweeds (Carlisle).

Several woven fabric samples arranged on two cherry picker ladders

Emma Shaw

I also love the way Emma displayed the fabric in the photo below. The colour of the step ladder makes a perfect background to the gorgeous colours in this weave! I love the tufty bits (no, I don’t know the technical term). Can you see that the tufty bits form a pattern?

Emma’s collection of fabrics for interiors was inspired by the North Yorkshire Moors. She compared patterns and textures found in the undulating land as a whole with those in the markings of the birds that live there.

Emma also represented Loughborough University at the Making it in Textiles conference (2015). Emma had placements at Thistle Hill Weavers (USA) and WAFFLE Design (London).

Woven fabric sample arranged on a small wooden stepladder



This year there were eighteen final year students specialising in weave; I’ve shown you some of the work by seven of them. If this has inspired you, you can see more photos on the Arts Degree Show website.

Simply buzzing!

In conclusion, if you get the opportunity, visit a degree show near you. You will see so much inspiring work in many different media. Consequently, I always leave degree shows inspired and buzzing with ideas to try in knit or crochet.

Sometimes I see a pattern that I’d like to reinterpret using knitting or crochet:

  • What knit or crochet technique should I use?
  • How would the different techniques change the appearance of the pattern?
  • How will I alter the pattern?
  • Should I use the pattern all over or just in some areas?

Sometimes I love a colour palette:

  • What type of yarn should I use?
  • Is the palette better for Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter?
  • Should I use each colour for different items or several in one item?

In fact, inspiration for my designs usually comes from several sources. Although I know the main source of inspiration for a design, other sources act at a subconscious level. Most of all, seeing other people’s work inspires me to be creative and make something!

You can see more work by students specialising in Woven textiles here!

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