University of Technology Sydney

88007 Textiles: Surface Form

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2020 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Design
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks


This subject introduces students to three-dimensional textiles through an in-depth exploration of thermoplastic and other surface form techniques. Thermoplastic techniques are widely used in the fashion and textiles industry where innovative textiles and inventive applications are highly regarded. Through applications of heat shaping, synthetics can be manipulated to permanently memorise shape or surface texture. In studio, students experiment with a variety of thermoplastic techniques as a means to discover new pleat geometries and the inherent design potential in sculpted surfaces. Other surface form techniques that are explored in this subject include bonded fabric applications such as felt making, and experimental knitting techniques, with the emphasis on technical textile innovation. In studio, students are introduced to the work of key contemporary textile designers. An emphasis throughout the subject is placed on a professional and sustainable studio practice.

This subject does not require prior experience in knitted textiles and caters for both beginners and advanced levels. Students are challenged according to their level of expertise.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. Investigate the possibilities of experimental textile processes as a vehicle for expressing ideas.
2. Develop skills and explore the potential of various fabric manipulation and surface treatments.
3. Utilise mark-making skills in order to produce conceptual surface design work
4. Identify and understand a broad range of contemporary textile design practices.
5. Apply the knowledge of construction and chemical treatments on fabrics.
6. Demonstrate professional workshop practice and knowledge of Workplace Health and Safety requirements in the Print Room.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes to the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Awareness of social and ethical responsibilities (A.2)
  • Development of an original aesthetic sensibility (I.1)
  • Ability to speculate, experiment, challenge boundaries and take risks (I.2)
  • Ability to use technology competently, appropriately and creatively (I.3)
  • Ability to use, acquire and integrate relevant technical skills (P.2)
  • Accuracy, rigour and care (P.5)
  • Ability to undertake in-depth research, including both visual and written forms (R.1)
  • Capacity to interpret complex ideas (R.4)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The term CAPRI is used for the five Design, Architecture and Building graduate attribute categories where:

C = communication and group work

A = attitudes and values

P = practical and professional

R = research and critique

I = innovation and creativity

This subject encourages student learning to develop these graduate attributes. The course content, learning strategies and assessment structure is explicitly designed with these attributes in mind.

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject is delivered as a three hour workshop per week in the mode of face to face teaching. The activities for this subject include demonstrations on thermoplastic and hand knitting techniques. At the start of each class surface form techniques will be introduced to students to explore and develop in class. Outside of class students are expected to develop these techniques further and conduct independent research. The subject also includes individual tutorial time with their tutor to develop individual project work. Students must refer to the subject program for clarification of required assessment and weekly tasks.


The three hours of weekly studio contact operates as guided studio-based workshops. During these sessions students will learn how to integrate the principles of three-dimensional textile manipulation in their designs. Surface form workshops introduce students to creative approaches to 3D textile design through experimentation in heat shaping using thermoplastic techniques. Surface form workshops provide students with opportunities to experiment with methods and techniques used in fashion and textile industries.

Emphasising creative exploration, learning in all facets of studio workshops is crucial to ensuring students deploy the design thinking and technical expertise required in this subject and the field. All students are expected to attend studio sessions, and follow suggested learning patterns and activities. Students are also encouraged to participate actively in the group discussions that occur during the studio sessions. as well as seeking valuable individual tutorial time with tutors.


Students are expected to conduct independent research supported by recommended texts accessible via UTS Online. Readings assist students to develop essential content knowledge related to both fashion and textile design principles, textile trends and technical systems. Independent research increases student capacity to experiment and develop confidence in testing, justifying and evaluating new and traditional methods of practice.


An emphasis throughout the subject is placed on a professional and sustainable print room practice. Students are expected to demonstrate professional workshop practice and knowledge of WHS requirements in the Print Room at all time.

Resources for this subject are located on UTS Online. These are used to support the learning objectives of this subject. A detailed overview of the pedagogy and associated tasks and assessment items are included in the subject documents. In addition, a comprehensive reading list comprising recommended texts is accessible from UTS Online.


From time to time, students will be required to visit industry specialists or related exhibitions to support their learning. Students will be advised in advance and/or exhibitions will be recommended for students to visit for their research.

Students will have several opportunities to receive feedback during the subject. The feedback provided will vary in form, purpose and in its degree of formality. Typically, the format of feedback is verbal and /or written. All feedback on assignments will be cross-reference to the briefing/assessment documents

Formative feedback will be provided during the learning process, typically provided verbally by the subject's teaching staff during studio sessions. It will address the content of work and a student's approach to learning, both in general and more specific ‘assessment orientated’ terms. It is designed to help students improve their performance in time for the submission of an assessment item. For this to occur students need to respond constructively to the feedback provided. This involves critically reflecting on advice given and in response altering the approach taken to a given assessment. Formative feedback may also, on occasion, be provided by other students. It is delivered informally, either in conversation during a tutorial or in the course of discussion at the scale of the whole class. It is the student’s responsibility to record any feedback given during meetings or studio sessions.

Summative feedback is provided in written form with all assessed work. It is published along with indicative grades online at UTS REVIEW. Summative feedback focuses on assessment outcomes. It is used to indicate how successfully a student has performed in terms of specific assessment criteria. Feedback, grades and assessment criteria will also be available to students via the REVIEW assessment system 2-3 weeks after the submission date.

Content (topics)

  • Felting
  • Knitting
  • Constructed Textiles
  • Experimental surface manipulation
  • Thermoplastics
  • Concept development
  • Contemporary textile practitioners
  • Safe work Practices


Assessment task 1: Thermoplastics and Sublimation print project


The intention for Assessment 1 is for students to explore thermoplastic and sublimation properties in synthetic fabrics. This exploration will demonstrate the potential cloth has as a sculptural medium for both fashion, interior, architecture, object and industrial design.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3 and 6

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

A.2, I.1, I.2, I.3 and P.5

Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%

Assessment task 2: Individual Knit project


The intention behind assessment 2 is for students to be introduced to knit and machine felting techniques. Through a series of demonstrations in hand knitting students will learn how cloth is constructed as a non woven and a constructed textile and the potential these techniques have for contemporary translations of these crafts. The intention behind Task 2 is to engage in a self directed individual project. Each student will consult with their tutor to develop a design project that explores sculptural form through the technique of their choice that has been explored in this subject.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 4 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

I.3, P.2, R.1 and R.4

Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%

Minimum requirements

Students must:

  • demonstrate to the lecturer that they have achieved the objectives described in the subject outline through the completion of assignments and projects.
  • attend 80% of lectures, tutorials and workshops.
  • submit all work on or before the due published date.

Required texts

please refer to Texts: recommended

Recommended texts

010 Curators.Sample.100 Fashion designers,010 curators, Phaidon, 2005
Black, S. (2002) Knitwear in Fashion, Thames and Hudson, London
Black, S. (2006) Fashioning Fabrics: Contemporary Textiles in Fashion, Black Dog Publishing, London
Braddock, S. & O'Mahony, M. (1998) Techno textiles: revolutionary fabrics for fashion and design, Thames and Hudson, London
Braddock, S. & O'Mahony, M. (2005) Techno textiles 2: revolutionary fabrics for fashion and design, Thames and Hudson, London
Colchester, C. (1991) The new textiles: trends + traditions, Thames and Hudson, London
Colchester, C. (2007) Textiles Today: a global survey of trends and traditions, Thames & Hudson, London
Fukai, A., Ince, C. & Nii, R. (2010) Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion, Merrell, London
Gale, C. & Lahori, L. (2002) The Textile Book, Berg, Oxford
Gale, C. & Kaur, J. (2004) Fashion & Textiles: an overview, Berg, New York
Jackson, A. (1997) Japanese country textiles, Victoria and Albert, London.
Kawashima, K. (2002) Art textiles of the world Japan: volume 2, Telos, Winchester
Lee, C. & She-reen, W. (2010) Shape Shifters: Shaping Fashion's Silhouettes, Page One Publishing, Singapore
McCarty, C. (1998), Structure and surface: contemporary Japanese textiles, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
McNamara, A. & Snelling, P. (1995) Design and Practice for printed Textiles, Oxford, Melbourne.
Mc Fadden D. (2008) Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting, Museum of Arts & Design
McQuaid, M. (2005) Extreme Textiles, Designing for High Performance, Thames & Hudson, London
Mitchell, L. (ed) (2005) The Cutting Edge: Fashion from Japan, Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney
Mori, T. (2002) Immaterial/Ultramaterial: architecture, design and materials, Harvard Design School.
O’Mahony, M. (2012) Advanced Textiles for Health and Well-Being, Thames & Hudson
O'Mahony, M. & Braddock, S. (1994) Textiles and new technology: 2010 Artemis, London
O'Mahony, M & Braddock, S. (1998) Techno Textiles: revolutionary fabrics for fashion and design, Thames & Hudson, London
O'Mahony, M. & Braddock, S. (2005) Techno Textiles 2: revolutionary fabrics for fashion and design, Thames & Hudson, London
Quinn, B. (2012) Fashion Futures, Merrell, London
Quinn, B. (2010) Textile Futures: Fashion, Design and Technology, Berg, New York
Wada, Y (1983) Shibori: the inventive art of Japanese shaped resist dying: tradition, techniques, innovation, Kodansha International, Tokyo
Wada, Y. (2002) Shibori now: Memory on cloth, Kodansha Internaitonal, Tokyo
Xiaoming, T. (2001) Smart fibres, fabrics and clothing, Woodhead, Cambridge


please refer to Texts: recommended

Other resources

Journals and magazines:

Fashion Theory (Also available as an e-journal from the UTS library website)
Fashion Practice
Men's Collections
Textile View Magazine
International Textiles
Fiberarts: the Magazine of Textiles
Selvedge Magazine
Surface Design Journal
Color Research & Application
Fashion News: International Fashion Collection
International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology

Free journals on the web Daily News Record: International Herald Tribune: Suzy Menkes fashion columns appear in the Arts and Leisure section of the paper. Ntouch: journal from the London Institute of Fashion. Women's Wear Daily: