Central Saint Martins

Last week I started a pattern making course at Central Saint Martins. I chose this course because it takes place five minutes away from my office – no excuse for skipping classes. I had no idea how phenomenal the school’s new venue behind Kings Cross would be.

Just arriving there feels like walking through a science fiction film. The venue is so new it’s not even on Google Maps yet. The area is riddled with building works as Kings Cross is renovated. Men in orange suits are everywhere, day and night. Big machines are drilling, scaffolding and churned up mud abounds – the excitement and energy is palpable.

Then you arrive at the school. Oh my god. It’s like walking into the Tate Modern. The venue is a converted granary warehouse. Here’s one of the communal areas as the school was closing up for the night:

Here’s the studio I work in:

And the main stairwell:

I had no idea how inspiring bricks and mortar could be. I feel very, very lucky to be studying here – for ten weeks, at least.

Last night, my tutor hoiked my new V8548 coat onto a dummy and gave it an inspection. I mean, an inspection! Nervous, moi? It was fascinating. She was very complimentary, but immediately spotted that one shoulder stay was better than the other, that the arm holes had originally been too roomy, that I could have tweaked the arm pattern piece and that there were seams unmatched on the lining. But she congratulated me. ‘I wouldn’t try to make a coat,’ she said. Phew, I think I passed the test!

I’ll let you know how I get on with the rest of the course. But so far, the signs are good. Very good indeed…

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40 Responses to Central Saint Martins

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Oh, I’m so jealous!!! Tell us all about it as you go. Best of luck!

  2. ooobop! says:

    I soooo want to do a pattern making course. I will be very keen to see your up and coming posts on this. That building looks amazing. You have got 10 most fabulous and inspiring weeks ahead of you I am sure.

  3. Chris says:

    Wow, what a fabulous opportunity, I’ll look forward to hearing all about it.

  4. auxetically says:

    Sounds pretty awesome. I’ll be following updates with lots of interest.

  5. Sanne says:

    How amazing! It looks gorgeous. I hope you have a wonderful course there.

  6. How cool. Sounds like a rather positive review to me.

  7. oonaballoona says:

    i sighed when i saw the first pic. HOW. WONDERFUL. how are you going to give it up after ten weeks?

  8. Amanda says:

    What a neat class! A non-sewing related comment, but I do love the adaptive re-use of this building. The new design elements together with historic quirks and features make for such a great result. We are getting better about that here in the States, usually we like to tear things down as fast as we can!

    • Oh, I totally agree, Amanda. It’s inspiring to see how old, Victorian buildings are being adapted. There’s a heck of a lot of work in the area, digging out old foundations that have become problematic because of the ancient canal and rail history – but keeping all that they can. I remember this place from 20 years ago and it was DIRE. I think it’s huge testament to someone that they’ve taken a part of London with a chequered history and really invested in it. What I find absolutely fascinating, working in the area, is how London life is adapting to all this regeneration. Yes, there are parts that are swish and impressive, but the less savoury aspects are still there and thriving!

  9. katiedmd says:

    That looks amazing! I can’t wait to hear all of your adventures! And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want my coat put to such scrutiny – lining seams? Egads!

  10. gingermakes says:

    Eek!! How fun!! Enjoy your class– I’m super jealous! ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. Leah says:

    Oh! I know I LOVE the new CSM building! I’m at Camberwell college of arts so we get access to all the UAL buildings. The first time I went there was a few days after it opened, they didn’t have any signs up yet and I got incredibly lost and ended up in the fashion studios,i think i just stood there with my mouth hanging open, they are so lovely! Lucky a nice girl showed me the way to the library, I was talking to her on the way about her course, it sounded great, but way too competitive for me. The short courses must be much better, I don’t think I could deal with the pressure of a fashion degree!
    I’m glad your coat got the thumbs up, it’s lovely!


    p.s If you get the chance to go to the library there DO IT its amazing!

    • Ooh, yes! I immediately thought, ‘If this is what the rest of the building is like, what’s the LIBRARY like?’ I’ll try and arrive early next week. Thanks for the tip off! And yes, I think I’d crumble as a full-time student there. But I get to gawp at what they’re doing (several of them stay late) and that feels a privilege in itself.

  12. Pearl says:

    I’m pea green with envy! I’m sure you’ll have bucket loads of fun. I would have been very nervous having my coat examined, too!


  13. Kirsty says:

    Is that in Airstream *in* the building? I’m gagging for an Airstream with a stripey scalloped awning, in my imaginary future life I have one in my (imaginary) garden, and I sit outside it in a vintage (imaginary) lawnchair, drinking (real) mojitos.

  14. Roobeedoo says:

    SO jealous!
    It is almost worth living in London to do an evening class at CSM! I said ALMOST! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Kerry says:

    Ooh, sounds exciting! Your picture of the mannequins reminds me of a cupboard we have in the museum store where I work – it’s packed full of mannequins to display costume and reminds me of some kind of weird science fiction film scene ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. susew says:

    Lucky you to be studying pattern making at such an esteemed school in an inspiring building!

  17. Marie says:

    OoOoOoOoOoh, this looks like such an exciting venue Karen! Tilly sharing her patternmaking course experiences and now you sharing this, has convinced me to take a week off work and take one of these courses myself. Just need to get the cash together now ;o)

  18. Debi says:

    WOW! How fun is that? That work space is so amazing!

  19. Have fun – I’d love to be taking this course….. at this venue!

  20. Felicity from Down Under says:

    what an amazing space. You’ll be inspired by that if nothing else. Good luck. I was thinking about your having said of your coat that it was your most challenging work to date and how you seemed to say that of everything. That’s quite a sensible thing to say, because the more skills you acquire, the further you stretch them. I can’t wait to see what you end up with out of this course!

  21. How great that your tutor could immediately see the little things that weren’t quite right with your coat. Not that it’s great that they weren’t quite right, but that you can hopefully really trust her to know what she is talking about when she’s teaching.

  22. wow! I did a course at the old St Martins and it was in no way as glamorous as this one! oh to quit work and do a full time course there *sighs*

  23. Jo Jones says:

    Hi there, I’m really enjoying your blog… pleeeeeease keep us posted on the course at Central St Martins. Sounds just wonderful and I’d love to know all the gems of inspiration!

  24. What an AMAZING opportunity!!! I am so excited to follow your adventures! ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. KristenMakes says:

    That is so exciting! What an amazing place to be taking classes, and around such vibrant talent too. Very jealous!

  26. Meg says:

    I did a pattern cutting short-course at CSM last summer and it really was fascinating. I was sad to hear that the building on Charing Cross Road had been sold and was closing, because it had so much history (first Sex Pistols gig; all those now-famous designers). But looking at the pictures of their new building in your post I’m really looking forward to starting my textile printing short-course in a few weeks. I’ll be sure to have a look at the library too. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on how your course at CSM compares with the Morley college courses you’ve taken (obviously once you’ve actually got some).

  27. PendleStitches says:

    I feel slightly breathless looking at these photos. The Husband has agreed that at some point in the near future (possibly next year when I’ve finished the degree I’m studying at the moment) we will have a week in London and I can attend Summer School at CSM whilst he takes the kids to the museums.

    Its a lifetime ambition of mine, so I can pretty much guess how you’re feeling right now, and these photos are a lovely taster for me.

    And yes, I did marry an amazing guy, although I kissed a lot of frogs first.

    Enjoy your course. Can’t wait to hear more.

  28. mooncalfmakes says:

    Ooh how amazing. I’m about a trillion steps behind you in sewing but, trailing in your wake, I have been inspired to order a copy of the Peony Dress (yee-ouch that was expensive) to see if I can make something that looks even vaguely like you amazing version. I suspect I don’t have the perfectionist streak required for the task but, we’ll see…

    Looking forward to hearing all about your course and to being further intimidated ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Adrienne says:

    Karen, that sounds A-MA-ZING. I look forward to reading about what you’re learning on Did you make that!

  30. I LOVE the new school, the location and the way they restored the building. I’ve always thought that it was a shame to leave those warehouses on the Canal to rot and look what the Granary has become!

  31. An Maliq says:

    it’s fantastic! I did my short course on fashion styling there, I loved everything!

  32. Pingback: Central Saint Martins – This Is What Inspiration Looks Like | Did You Make That?

  33. Bianca says:

    Hey, Iโ€™m taking the Innovative Pattern Cutting class this summer, its also a 10 week course. Is that what you took? I havenโ€™t really received much information on the course, and Iโ€™m from New York so Iโ€™m just nervous that the course material is going to be so different from what I am used to. Do they work from slopers or is everything from scratch. . Its also for graduates and professionals, and Iโ€™m nervous that Iโ€™ll be the youngest and most inexperienced person there. If you could give me any info on the courses and what to expect that would be awesome! : ) Thanks.

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