Colour and Cloth is owned and run by Christine Boyle. Based in her quirky home studio in South East Belfast, Colour and Cloth offers sewing classes workshops and events from beginners to beyond.  Christine has been sewing since she was 6.  She has taught over 2000 students in colleges, community groups, individual tuition and mentoring.  She has over 20 years experience in the Northern Ireland Fashion, Design and manufacturing industry and over 10 years experience being self employed in the Costume Industry.  She is credited as Costume Maker on Seasons 1-4 of HBO's Game of Thrones.  As well as upcycling and reinventing clothing, her home is an upcycled and recycled haven and has featured in national publications. She was on the Great Interior Design Challenge Series 2.  

We interviewed Christine about her work, experience and inspirations:

From inspiration to outcome, what is your particular process for costume designing?

Inspiration for a costume can come from many sources.  It can be from having quiet time to reflect, or the result of travelling to a city and being bombarded with culture. Often it is nature; a petal of a flower can often translate wonderfully into the silhouette of a dress that had been at a sticking point until a visit to a floral market.  To rule anything that exists out as a source of inspiration is to close the doors on the possibilities of creative journeys and progression.  Fabric will come next.  Each fabric has its own qualities that can also be manipulated by garment construction.  I believe it is very important for a designer to understand the materials they are working with and understand how to construct a garment.  I think to only sketch an idea is limiting.

What inspired your upcycled / reconstructed range and where do you forage fabrics?

I have always had a collection of fabrics - from stacks of sample clothes from Castleisland Tweed, leather from the GOT costume department, Irish lace and crochet from the 1950s.  Even if a garment is still intact but maybe on its way to the charity shop, I will see it as fabric, and look at how it can be reinvented into something else.  Leather belts can be used as bag handles, everything can be repurposed. I only like natural fabrics because they will last.  I used linen that is over 50 years old and I know it will still be as good as, 50 years from now.  It is not our natural way of thinking, but you can really become open to this by dissecting how a garment is made and then literally turning it inside out, upside down and changing it.  It is very addictive once you get started!  Our wastefulness of clothing and fabric and its effect on our planet is very frightening so I hold classes on teaching sewing skills on Make Do and Mending and An Intro to Upcycling.  We need to bring these creative life skills back - focusing on re-design and re-purposing clothing and bringing awareness to fast fashion and what we can do to slow it down. 

What is your top tip (with detail) for fashion and textile graduates embarking on their careers?

The graduates have just finished up at UUB and I was involved with helping one of the students realise her collection.  I am continually learning from those younger and older than me.  I would say that just because you have graduated, your learning and development should not stop.  Instead, always immerse yourself in the new fabric, fashion trends and developments.  Be aware of what is coming up, but always respect the past.  Our graduates of today have this mountain of fast fashion to overcome.  Their collections have not only to be commercial and of great design, but the expectations to be eco and sustainable are just as important.  I graduated in 1996 and I have been blessed to be involved in the NI Fashion & Textile Industry since 1996 and since 2008 in the Costume Design and Construction industry.

I would also say that a healthy attitude to getting things done will reap rewards.