Full service screen printing company, Refuel Apparel Ltd has been working on an exciting initiative with students at Waddesdon Church of England School, to provide them with an invaluable insight into the printing and textile industry.

Anna Moores, pre production manager at Refuel Apparel and former textiles student at Waddesdon CofE School, created a plan for the students to work collaboratively with her throughout the summer term to design and produce t-shirts within an industrial working environment.

The initiative which involved working with seven Year Nine students, gave them hands on experience and a clear insight into the full life cycle of an authentic textiles and printing industry project. Initially they were asked to create mood boards based on a fashion designer of their own choice. Anna then explained, on a practical level, how they could formulate concepts and designs for the t-shirts and how that would translate into print and effect the textiles aspects.

Waddesdon CofE students completed a day of practical training at Refuel Apparel on Monday 22nd June when they watched their designs, which had been digitally prepared for printing by Anna, being put onto screens and then were able to observe the entire print process. The project is ongoing as the students are now further embellishing the resulting t-shirts, working on the textile aspects, overlaying with stitching, and taking their t-shirt designs that one step further.

Anna says: "There are very few opportunities for students to gain experience in the industry, so we believe this has been a fantastic chance for Waddesdon CofE School students as it has provided them with a first hand understanding of the industry before they venture into higher education.

"The students were very interested to learn how my career had developed and where I had found opportunities. I explained that when I started out in the textiles industry, I assumed that in order to work for a large successful company you would need to commute to London each day. So for me, landing a professional role at Refuel Apparel was perfect as it meant I didn’t need to relocate away from friends and family. I will continue to interact and engage with the students by sharing the work they have produced on social media platforms and we hope to run the successful initiative again next year.

"This initiative has been both exciting and rewarding to work on so many levels, personally it was great to give these 13 year olds a head start on their journey into the industry, caring and supporting the communities we live in is very important to us at Refuel Apparel and we are committed to giving back. But I suppose most importantly and from a newly established business standpoint, this initiative has been instrumental in raising awareness on a local level, not only for our business services but also for prospective future employees."

Ms Patchett, textiles teacher at Waddesdon CofE School goes onto say: "I was delighted when one of my past A level Textiles students, Anna Moores, contacted me to say she was now the design consultant at Refuel Apparel. Anna came into school to talk through the design process and show examples of some of the t-shirts Refuel Apparel had printed. She then discussed with the girls their own design ideas. Following Anna’s visit to school the girls were lucky enough to visit Refuel Apparel where they were shown the next stages in the t-shirt printing process.

"Back in school, the next stage of the process was to personalise the t-shirts. The students have added embroidery, beadwork, fringing and in some cases completely remodelled the shape of their garments. I am very grateful to Anna for providing the t-shirts free of charge and giving our students a glimpse into the world of industrial printing."

Here’s what the students had to say:

Cary Hobbs: "On Monday, June 22nd, the Year 9 Textiles class were invited to Westcott Venture Park to see our t-shirt designs being printed. We learnt how each individual colour is screen-printed and how everything has to be exactly lined up to ensure the design works properly. We saw one of our designs being printed onto a t-shirt, which was really cool!"

Erin Payne: "We all got into the school’s mini bus and went to Westcott Venture Park to see our t-shirts being printed. Once we got there we were shown around the factory. It was amazing. We got to see our designs on the computer and then be printed onto silk screens and finally printed onto a t-shirt. The printing was the best part. The man had to align the screen carefully over the t-shirt before printing it. It was very interesting."

Rachel Horwood: "First we were shown around the workshop and saw some products the company had already made. We were then taken through the process of how the designs were printed onto the t-shirts. The most enjoyable part of the experience was watching the ink being put onto the screens, then onto the t-shirts."

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