Student weaves her way onto national tartan register

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Student weaves her way onto national tartan register

A contemporary tartan designed by a student during a work experience placement has been registered by The Scottish Register of Tartans.

Rachel Evison, 21, a fourth year textile and design student at Heriot-Watt University in Galashiels, created ‘Ashers of Nairn’ tartan.

Rachel, from North Yorkshire, who was on a summer work experience placement with Bute Fabrics on the Isle of Bute, used the corporate colours for Ashers of Nairn to commemorate the company’s success in the Scottish Baker of the Year 2014 competition.

Rachel won her work placement after taking first prize in an industrial project arranged by Heriot-Watt staff. Working in conjunction with university lecturers and the design team at Bute Fabrics, students were tasked with resolving a design challenge that the company faced.

During her placement, Rachel was briefed by Ashers of Nairn who wanted to modernise their existing tartan using the colours in their company logo.
Rachel said, “Being at Heriot-Watt has really opened my eyes to the whole woven fabrics industry because the university is situated in a place that is rich in Scottish textile history. I find it so inspiring that our studios are in an old working Mill as it makes weaving here feel special and exciting and inspires an interest in tartan. There are so many tartan designs with different colours and colour proportions. The different patterns are fascinating to look at and I think it’s really interesting to take a traditional tartan composition like I did with Ashers of Nairn then adjust the colouration to create a new contemporary fabric.

“I’ve always loved textiles and enjoyed making things from a young age. Although I initially wanted to be a fashion designer when I started my degree, I’ve learned so much about the importance of fabrics and its properties and qualities that I’d now like to design fabrics as a career.

“I think work experience is incredibly important to my career choice and has really added to my university degree as it has made me consider the importance of certain aspects when designing a fabric such as its durability and quality. It’s also allowed me to see what mechanical weaving looms are capable of doing and has made me consider factors like what yarns would work best on an industrial loom. When I graduate I’m hoping to visit more weaving mills and weave designers in the UK and abroad to gain inspiration and see how the companies operate.”

Fiona Pankhurst, Lecturer in the School of Textiles, said, “Being named as the designer on an officially registered tartan is a great achievement for an undergraduate student and a wonderful addition to Rachel’s CV.
“Our students and staff are regularly sought out by industry contacts for help and inspiration at both an undergraduate and postgraduate level. In turn, our students benefit enormously from the experience they gain on live projects and the insights they receive into commercial businesses. Our teaching staff are currently organising a project with Nutmeg, the clothing arm of Morrison’s supermarket and Tigerprint, the stationers for M&S. In the past, our students have worked with companies like Cotton Incorporated in the U.S. During this project, students wove samples on hand looms to try to improve fabric performance in crease recovery then tested them in the lab to see which performed best. Further samples were woven on our production loom and tested. Our research allowed the company to achieve improved results.”

James Sprint, Managing Director of Bute Fabrics, said, “We like to give younger people the chance to fully express themselves. Giving Rachel a free hand to design what she wanted and putting forward her ideas, undiluted, to our client was highly rewarding for both Rachel and us. One of our designers, who graduated last year, has had her unique design for an upholstery fabric accepted by a North American office furniture manufacturer, and we’ve had re-orders for that range already. At Bute Fabrics we foster an atmosphere of positivity, cheerfulness and a drive to make something truly wonderful happen.”

For more information, please contact Julie Watt at Pagoda PR on 0131 556 0770 or