Milan’s most stressful.

Looking back on the thought of moving to a different country with nothing but two suitcases a little bit of cash in my pocket and a big dream seems like something only a mad man would do. But that’s what I did.

On the 5th October I boarded my flight and away I went to start my adventure for the year.

I’ve moved to Milan to study at NABA ‘Nuova Accademia Di Belle Arti Milano’ which is an art school in the center of the city.

The first day seemed to pass with the blink of and eye- which sounds cliche- but true. My main priority was to get a working phone sorted so I had a connection with the rest of the world. Communicating with Italians was the most daunting thing to me as my Italian isn’t that great, although I’d practiced before I came the amount I’d learnt wasn’t enough, so ‘Parla Inglese?’ was set to be my new catch phrase.

I spent the first week living out of my suitcase in a hostel just outside of the cite center. At first the idea of living in a hostel wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to spend my first few days as I’d never stayed in one before I was unsure of the security – and with it having to hold all of my belongings safely I was a little dubious. To be fair the hostel wasn’t all that bad. It had a kitchen that we could cook in and prepare meals cheaply and experiment with new Italian recipes. We didn’t spend a lot of time in the hostel as for the first week we spent a lot of the time at the University having inductions to the institution, and what we could expect of the course we were about to undertake. The rest of our time was spent searching for a property to live in for the next 10 month – this has proven to be the biggest challenge of the experience so far.

Coming from Coventry University – where it is expected that you would live with your friends – and after living with 7 other people in my 2nd year Kayleigh, Emily and I didn’t expect that finding a flat to accommodate 3 would be too much of a problem. Within 48 hours of being in Milan we were most definitely proven wrong.

Although the university offers support in finding suitable accommodation for the year they don’t provide any sort of halls of residence or even student housing, they simply tell you of properties or rooms that are up for rent in the surrounding area that allow students to live there. And usually these are usually only for 1 person, or have shared bedrooms which none of us really wanted. We were told that we most probably wouldn’t find a property to suit our needs and we’d just about given up hope when we called an estate agent about a 4 bedroom flat to rent 10 minutes away from the university. We didn’t expect that we’d be able to afford it and even if we could there was only 3 of us and not the 4 that the advertisement was for. Never the less we went along to view the apartment which was on a quite side road to a busy main road. The flat was perfect it had 4 large bedrooms all with double beds, a small kitchen and 2 bathrooms which were all newly fitted. We viewed the apartment in the evening so it was dark so it was hard to get a gauge of how much natural light would fill the property. Communicating with the estate agent was also something that shouldn’t go unmentioned. She spoke very little English – and it was safe to say we spoke little more Italian – but with the aid of Google Translate and the little bit of Italian we’d learnt over the summer we just about managed to get by.

We decided to take the property and the estate agent said it would be fine for either us or them to find a suitable 4th tenant which we thought would work out well as there was no longer the stress of trying to find somewhere to live. Within 3 or so days we’d moved out of the hostel and into our shiny new apartment, none of us had ever felt so happy or rewarded for the hard work we’d had to put into it.

The next week we started a very intensive course to warm us into the year ahead. It took place with all of the other Erasmus Fashion Students. We had just one week to research, design, and create a collection of t-shirts. They had to be a little more than your average plain white tee – something that would be desirable and high-end.

Following on from my ‘abagailemily’ project I’d started at Coventry earlier in the year I wanted to take a fun approach to the project. My initial idea was to continue with something floral gaining and inspiration by looking at the works of various designers. The more research I did and the more quick sketches I drew I thought it was a little bit too been there done that so I wanted to try out something new.

I was unsure whether to possibly go down the route of Children’s Wear as fun and cute is something I think comes quite naturally to me. I started to create designs with fruit using cartoon motifs that would either be printed or embellished. I then started designing just the sleeves of the t-shirt as fruit choosing fruits with interesting layers beneath the skin.

My final designs included the fruits of Watermelons, Oranges and Kiwis. You can see the image of my designs below.

I was pretty pleased with the outcome of my designs and think its definitely something I can develop but I’ve not found the time as of yet.

As for the garments that I actually produced I think they might require a bit more work! Sewing has never been my strongest point but I definitely try my hardest. The pattern cutting for the t-shirts (particularly the Orange) proved pretty difficult! To save time we were allowed to rework pre-bought garments. So I bought two basic t-shirts from H&M and replaced the sleeves with my own – I appreciate this could be seen as cheating!

I had to create a pattern to fit the arm holes perfectly – so with time in mind I added a gather to the top so they would just ease in. I also cut the sleeves into layers and segments according to the fruits which at first I didn’t think would be a problem – But stitching together scalloped segments of an orange was something I found pretty stressful and difficult task! I did get there in the end although the quality is something I could work on so I am planning on re-making them (and also the t-shirt base too) later on in the year. Hopefully I will also make the entire collection and get them photographed for my personal portfolio. I will publish photos of the finished garments just as soon as I have the opportunity to take them!