Although my days of attending classes are over (insert hallelujah chorus here) many of my friends are going back to school this fall, and I’m sure some of you are too!
For those of you choosing fashion design as your area of study, I’ve compiled 10 things I learned in fashion school to hopefully give you some tips to take with you.
These are the things I learned through experience rather than from textbooks, which is why I think they’ll be highly beneficial to anyone else beginning an education in fashion design.
Basically, I made a lot of mistakes which in turn provided a lot of lessons I can now share with you all.
You can thank me later.
- Go the extra meter– when buying fabric, it’s always important to allow yourself a little wiggle room. You never know when you’re going to be cutting out a skirt at 1:00 AM and accidentally cut one of your pieces out backwards, ruining your section of fabric. Having an extra meter on hand allows you to redo your piece and keep working, saving you the hassle of returning to the fabric store, or worse, having your project unfinished when it’s due.
- Quadruple check– the old saying goes “measure twice, cut once”, but I’m here to tell you that as a first time sewer when I was in fashion school it was usually wiser to measure four times and cut once. You don’t want to know how many pieces I cut out or sewed incorrectly because I didn’t check over my work thoroughly enough. You may even think you know what you’re doing and don’t need to check. Check anyways. Trust me, it will save you late nights with your seem ripper re-sewing a pair of pants for the third time.
- Plan ahead– this one was huge for me and my classmates. When trying to balance six courses per semester, it’s very easy for things to pile up. Get yourself a day planner and plan out when you have to do certain tasks. Be sure to remember that new assignments are given each week, so don’t save all your work for the week before it’s due. This one may seem self explanatory, but for me planning was a major factor in how successful (or unsuccessful) I was during my time in school.
- Sleep– there’s a point in every “all nighter” that I like to call “the point of no return”. Basically, after this point you can’t seem to do anything right and your body is so tired it ceases to perform even the simplest of tasks correctly. For me it was far more productive to work until a certain time, go to sleep and wake up early to complete my work. Even just a couple hours of sleep refreshed me enough to take a new, fresh look at things and be ten times more successful. Just be sure to set an alarm so you actually wake up ;)
- Clean– At my school we were each given a drafting table and sewing station to claim for the year. As things got more and more busy these stations got more and more messy, eventually resulting in a giant heap of fabric, patterns, zippers and textbooks with the actual table top a distant memory. This resulted in not being able to find anything and in turn wasting time searching for stuff. I also found I was a lot more stressed out when my work space was cluttered and messy. Once things were neat, my mind was automatically more at ease. The condition of your work space really does have an affect on how you work, so be sure to take a few minutes each day simply to tidy up.
- Research– one of the biggest questions I got asked in fashion school was “why?”. When presenting my proposed designs to my professors they would often ask me why I had made certain decisions. Just a heads up, “I don’t know” is never a good answer in this situation. Be sure to do your research and justify your decisions. If it’s a personal preference, be sure to explain your creative reasoning behind it.
- Ask for help– it took me a little while to feel comfortable with asking for help during my time in university. A lot of the students in my classes were a lot more advanced at sewing than I was, making that one of my biggest insecurities. However, once I learned it was far more beneficial to ask for help rather than struggle, things were a lot more positive! I had a few professors that were very eager to help me learn more, as well as a group of classmates that were so generous with their time and effort in helping me with aspects I didn’t understand. Never be afraid to ask for assistance!
- Practice– the classic “practice makes perfect”. This looks different for everyone. For me, sewing was my greatest struggle. This meant coming in early and staying late to practice what I wasn’t good at in order to improve. Because there was a lot to do, this wasn’t always the easiest. Often times I would want to get started on a project right away, but taking an hour to practice the techniques before starting on my final product not only helped me improve my skill set, it enhanced the quality of my final garment. It may seem like an unnecessary step, but for anyone that’s fairly new to the sewing world, or even working with something they’ve never worked with before, it’s highly beneficial.
- Get to know your instructors– one of the things that made my university experience so unique was the instructors I worked with. By forming a positive student-teacher relationship with them the atmosphere was a lot more pleasant. Learning something new is difficult enough. Having to do so in an environment where you’re uncomfortable or feel like you’re unable to ask for help makes things a lot worse.
- Make friends– I can’t begin to describe how different my university experience would have been if I hadn’t had such a fabulous group of friends . Not only did they constantly help me, they made the long classes and late nights so much more enjoyable (not to mention our late night Denny’s runs for pancakes and milkshakes). Although fashion design school is a lot of work, be sure to take the time to get to know those around you. I’m still close with many of the girls I attended classes with!
Hopefully the things I learned during my time in fashion school will be able to inspire some of you as you continue an education in fashion.
If you are attending fashion school, or even just considering it, feel free to comment or message any questions you have! I love sharing my experiences.