Watch: Talented Edinburgh pupils win major textile competition as panel hails 'beautiful' garments

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The Firrhill High School trio’s work was hailed as ‘beautiful’.

Three pupils from an Edinburgh secondary school beat rivals from across Scotland to scoop the top prize at a prestigious textiles competition.

Firrhill High School trio Angus Wallace, Lisa Elvin and Rosie Eastwood’s work was hailed as ‘beautiful’ by an expert panel at Dumfries House, where the Tartan Takeover took place last week.

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The event, run by The King’s Foundation, showcases the next generation of fashion industry talents. The charity established by the King in 1990 has its headquarters at the Ayrshire country house.

L-R Lisa Elvin, Angus Wallace and Rosie Eastwood, work on their creationL-R Lisa Elvin, Angus Wallace and Rosie Eastwood, work on their creation
L-R Lisa Elvin, Angus Wallace and Rosie Eastwood, work on their creation | Handout by Tailormade Media

With the help of teacher Lisa Campbell, the trio won over a panel composed of The Great British Sewing Bee’s Patrick Grant, Vixy Rae of Edinburgh-based Stewart Christie, Scotland’s oldest tailor, and John Sugden of Campbell’s of Beauly.

Grant said of the Firrhill team’s creation: “The construction of your garments is really beautiful and very elegant and refined. The quality of the sewing is great and all three of you were fully involved and seemed to be enjoying it.”

Having won the contest, the youngsters will get a behind-the-scenes tour of Stewart Christie on the Capital’s Queen Street and the chance to meet the firm’s master tailors and kiltmakers.

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Twelve pupils from Firrhill attended monthly workshops with expert tutors from The King's Foundation in the run-up to last week's inter-schools competition.

To design their tartan, Firrhill pupils were assigned the theme of ‘animals from the estate’ and handed two inspiration pictures of rare-breed calves and piglets on the Education Farm on the estate.

Ms Campbell, teacher of fashion and textile technology, said: "The pupils were so excited about the workshops with The King's Foundation's textiles tutors. The chance to spend longer than 50 minutes to get their teeth stuck into a task and develop their skills was great.

“They came away from the first workshop so excited and were so excited to show their peers at school what they'd created, and for weeks afterwards they were asking when they would be able to go back to Dumfries House.

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“The second workshop, constructing garments such as a waistcoat and kilt, has developed their skills and built their confidence ahead of National 5 exams next Summer.

Firrhill pupils with the judges and their winning designFirrhill pupils with the judges and their winning design
Firrhill pupils with the judges and their winning design | Handout by Tailormade Media

"We knew that one of the key values of The King's Foundation is sustainability so used an old woollen blanket donated by a teacher and an old prom dress, bringing those two elements together to produce a waistcoat and a kilt-inspired skirt with a hand-embroidered thistle as a feature on the back of the waistcoat.

"I couldn't have asked for more of the pupils during the challenge day. They worked so well as a team and didn't seem to be in a flap.

“They knew what they were doing and just took it all in their stride. We hadn't had much time to practise making the garments as we spent so much time designing the tartan.

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“They were really pleased with how they did but saw the designs created by pupils from the 11 other schools and were just hoping for a runner-up placing. So, they were so shocked and so chuffed to be announced as the winners and have been on cloud nine since going back to school.

"It just feels a bit surreal that the tartan will go towards inspiring Dumfries House's new tartan. The pupils are normally too shy to show their amazing work to their family and friends, so the fact that The King himself is going to see it is unbelievable."

Kelly Espindola, Future Textiles lead tutor for The King's Foundation at Dumfries House, said: "It was so refreshing to see young people involved and enthusiastic about sewing, and to see the intergenerational mix between our Sewing Bee members and the pupils.

"A massive well done to Firrhill, attending the workshops in recent months (and having to leave Edinburgh at 7.30am each day to do so), working hard on the concept of their tartan, and really embracing the challenge.

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“They rose to the occasion and stood out on the day. It was a winning combination of great craftsmanship and sewing skills paired with a fantastic design.

"This has been a great opportunity for the young people, but to know The King is looking at their work is another level. The pupils' work will live on in the Dumfries House tartan, and The King will I'm sure be very impressed when he sees the fruits of their labour in the last few months.

"I hope the pupils take home from this course some valuable lessons about sustainability and what goes into making clothes, allowing them to make good choices in future and perhaps even making their own clothes.

“They all had a burning passion for being creative, and we'd love to see them carry that on and become the sustainable designers and makers of the future."

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