Subtraction Cutting 2014-2020 - : 131 Scholarly Encounters and Artefacts'

Project Details


REF 2021 submission (Royal College of Art).
Action research taking place in 5 International Regions:

Events taking place in 25 Countries, involving 88 institutions.

Subtraction Cutting is a series of works that challenge conventional approaches to the construction and communication of fashion design.
The research addresses how designers beneficially engage with abstract methodologies of making in large participatory audiences, and within short timeframes. It investigates how creative risk-taking and collaborative making activities become more widely accessible, and used to help raise confidence in creative ability, without requiring high levels of prior knowledge or expertise.
Roberts uses action research as the principal method for testing the effectiveness of live performances of garment making, incorporating projected video and spoken narrative to engage collaboratively with mixed participatory audiences of varying sizes, nationalities, age groups, and levels of expertise.

By developing simplified and deliberately abstract variations of construction Subtraction Cutting demonstrates how intuitive experimentation in textile material and chance discovery helps re-sequence conventional design procedure, whilst reducing reliance on numerical sizing and measurement. This structural change results in deliberately disorientating, hard-to-predict and elaborate outcomes which provoke aesthetic judgment, and contribute to dialogue about the relationship between the body of the maker and the wearer, and the movement of flexible textile material around the dynamic human form.

This action research took place in widespread geographic locations during 2014-2020 producing large iterations of work which converge to evidence new approaches to textile-led fashion design practice. This reached 25 Countries and involved 88 institutions who financially supported the research.

The outputs have also been disseminated publicly in the form of documentary videos, photography, writing and shared lectures.
Short titleSubtraction Cutting 2014-2020
Effective start/end date1/01/1431/12/21

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production


  • fashion
  • pattern cutting
  • floppy geometry