Event #3: Sewing workshop

The first event in the four day LIVE Transmissions program was a Bloomer Making Workshop held at 310 New Cross Road, just around the corner from the main Goldsmiths campus. It is a shop on the high street that is managed by the Centre for Arts and Learning and has two main rooms as well as access to a small yard. It was perfect for our events as we wanted a space that offered a flexible, open context for making, talking and eating than the usual lecture or teaching room. Last time we were in the Centre for Creative collaboration in Kings Cross. This time we wanted a space that we could host a making wokshop and the symposium and yet be close enough to the main campus to enable participants to easily attend the Public Talk by Jackie Orr in one of Goldsmiths’ Cinemas.

The day started at 10 with a brief talk -‘What do bloomers have to do with sociology?” – in which introduced the ‘Freedom of Movement’ project (otherwise known as Bikes & Bloomers). I talked about the how I am a trained ethnographer, yet how in doing this archival and very material project I have learned to interview objects in the process of doing a sociological sewing; how I learned to ask different questions, to listen to objects and observe different kinds human non-human interactions and interrogate less visible forms of labour and knowledge making.

We then got stuck into sewing.

There were 6 makers – Li, Julia, Asa, Kristina, Laura and Roberta – plus Rachel, Brit and myself.

I like so many things about these workshops, but particularly striking are the discussions that emerge and entangle in and around bodies, materials and the transforming materials. As we cut and pinned and sewed and changed 2d fabric into 3d sculpture we talked about ethnographies of making, of how we might talk to objects and how they talk back, how we listen to ourselves and learn new skills, how we can travel through the stories of bloomer makers into the past and back again, how we view different assemblies of knowledge, how we might hold on to the messiness of making and invite others into this process.

It was a productive session.

(photos by Brit Hatzius)


First there was some trying on of bloomers to see which ones to make. As per previous events we had two patterns; the tailored bloomer that would have been worn under skirts and the full bloomer which is a voluminous garment worn on its own and although a bifurcated garment it was designed to conceal as much as possible a woman’s independently moving legs.

Once the choice was made, the pattern was put together from a pattern pack.



People brought along some great material.




The cutting started.



Desks, wall and the floor were put to work




Sew, sew!




Rachel was doing an admirable job of guiding and helping everyone sew while I was spending more time finishing garments for our opening on Friday night.