CREATE Education Ambassador James Walsh, produced a range of full-scale 3D printed dresses on the Ultimaker S5, including a floating wedding dress as part of his final degree collection, to complete his studies in BA Fashion Design Womenswear at Central St Martins – part of the University of Arts in London.

His intention as a design student has always been to create static sculptures, which come in the form of wearable clothing and he was introduced to the wonders and potential of 3D printing as a tool of application for creating sustainable fashion during his internship at Christian Louboutin.

Project Summary

His interest started from seeing a wealth of statues in the streets and museums, and he was incredibly drawn to frozen garments and the timelessness these figures held. As a designer, he constantly questions the importance of time and longevity of clothing and wanted to conceptualise this as an object that can last (under the right circumstances) forever.

Inspiration comes from manmade objects including the static clothing on statues, plastic toys (notably Polly Pocket), and porcelain dolls, as these objects are something that takes an incredible amount of time and skill to achieve. Whether they be sculpted by hand, or mass-produced in a factory. These techniques were not readily available to James and this is when he recognised the significance of 3D printing, which allows complex and technical processes to become easily accessible.

Having worked out the costs of his designs via quotes to outsource the print production to a 3D printing hub, the figures left James reeling. He may not be able to see his creations brought to life.

James approached The CREATE Education Project to see if we could assist him to realise his dream to create his range of 3D printed dresses for his end of year final collection and catwalk show.

Loving his work and ambition, we loaned James one of our Ultimaker S5 3D printers and have liaised with James at every stage of his project to assist with technical queries and document his progress and the trials and tribulations that he faced along the way.

Project Details

3D printing his dresses has enabled James to create work which is entirely zero waste. This is something relatively unheard of in the fashion industry, but as he was printing from scratch, waste simply didn’t exist.

Whilst 3D printing was used as a gateway tool to create his work, James was interested in challenging the generic look of a ‘standard’ print. The contoured layers are something James wanted to move away from, so he developed a series of processes and finishes allowing him to completely transform the printed products into blank canvases.

After carefully sanding, priming and coating in thin layers of resin, he had the freedom to project any finish he wanted to the pieces (e.g. chromed/ flocked/ hand-painted). Which meant that the process could transcend beyond regular printing and any characteristics associated with it and broaden the uses and possibilities printing has in a design world.


And here they are…

James printed the pink dress in November 2019, it is made up of a total of 16 individual pieces which took approximately 156 hours to print and then further preparation time to assemble, sand, prime and paint the dress to achieve the final look.

With the original pattern taken from a vintage Mary Quant dress, the yellow ‘wind’ dress created by James took around 170 hours to print and is made up of 16 separate pieces.

The floating wedding dress James has created is really quite something. James has had the idea in his head since his first year at @bafscm and wanted to produce it since then.

The dress is made up of a total of 18 separate pieces, which took a total of 260 hours to piece together and make the free-standing garment.

You can see the dresses in progress below when Nicola went to visit him in his studio at St Martin’s earlier this year. James also created 3D printed shoes and accessories which can be seen in studio progress below.

During the lockdown, James was able to complete his studies thanks to the loan of the 3D printer in his flat to ensure his work was completed and ready for the final submission and catwalk show.

Unfortunately, due to lockdown, the much-anticipated end of year St Martins fashion show and catwalk was cancelled but James and his fellow students worked hard to produce a socially distanced showreel to showcase their final collections and collective achievements, with James using the nightclub he works in as a venue for his catwalk.

We are so pleased that James has achieved his goal and proud to have helped him bring his ideas to reality. We can’t wait to see what James has up his sleeve to 3D print next, as he takes the next steps on his journey as a MA student at St Martin’s.

Watch this space…


To find out more about our 3D printer loan scheme or how to purchase a 3D printer and accessories with our educational discount, please contact the CREATE Education team at

Welcome, visitor. Files are available to download with this content. Please sign up to Download. Sign up or Login

This content was contributed by