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Introduction: Manic Pop Talks About Fashion Design

So... I've decided I'm starting a new, on-going series of posts that have to do with fashion design.

As many of you may know, I graduated with a BFA in Fashion Design from the Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago back in 2007. It was a great experience, albeit stressful but I wouldn't trade what I majored in for anything. (My 2nd and 3rd choices were journalism or psychology, so clearly I picked the best major!)

Over the years, many people have questioned how useful my degree is or snarkily suggest that I am "not using it" in my work life (the answer to that is actually, it's helped rather than hindered, but that's another post altogether.)

 At an exhibition of my work (the whole store was filled) at Lomo Chicago, August 2013.

And who cares how I use my degree anyhow? Right?! It's my life.

Especially within the past 2 years, I have been astounded by how many resources there are out there for young and beginning fashion designers. From Burda, to Pinterest, to independent blogs, to even books in the craft stores and book stores - with a simple Google search you can pretty much find out how to make anything you want.

 Patternmaking for the scallop top dress in 2013.

Back in 2004, there was very little out there for design. Sure, there were sewing patterns to use, I'm sure there were some books I could have used, but as a 17, 18 year old growing up with only my mom and sister around, there wasn't really anyone to teach me sewing/design and all the information to take in about it was daunting.

Also remember that in July of 2004 when I started fashion design school, Project Runway wasn't even a thing at all - it came out late 2005! I think the popularity of that show is what sparked a bit more interest in sewing and design again and I am grateful since there are so many books out there to help along people.

I could have saved a ton of money by not going to design school but I'm glad I did. Most jobs in Chicago require you to have a Bachelor's in something (yes, even retail management) so it's great that I went for anything at all and even better that I went to school for something I sincerely enjoyed.

I'll be giving you guys a peek at old stuff I did in design school throughout this series as well as sharing links, sharing some of my favorite books, resources, and helping you along as a designer!

 Old inspiration board, digital collage. 2009.

I downloaded and saved a file of the current class list at my alma mater, so I'll be touching on many of the things on there coupled with my personal experience and tricks I learned even after college.

Currently, here is what the "class list" looks like, starting on March 6th, 2015! All following posts will ideally be posted every week, on Fridays.
  • Fashion Illustration  - 3/6/15
  • Computer Design - 3/13/15
  • Collection Concepting and Color Stories - 3/20/15
  • Trends and Forecasting - 3/27/15
  • Sewing Basics/How to Read a Commercial Pattern 4/3/15
  • Pattern making for Fashion Design (might be broken into 2 posts?) - 4/10/15
  • Digital Textile Design - 4/17/15
  • PDF patterns and Grading - 4/24/15
  • Creating a Cohesive Brand Identity - 5/1/15
Note: Exact dates are subject to change, but I'll definitely be going down the line on this list.

This is obviously no substitute for going to design school.

If you want to be taken seriously in the industry and work for large companies, they expect you to have a degree. However, that doesn't mean that if you're amazing that you can't work in design. There are many that do and I believe that you don't always have to have a degree so long as you are determined and learn the required skills. I've seen it done before!

 This isn't meant to be a comprehensive series, but merely an introduction to areas that any designer should take time to explore more as well as some tips and tricks!


  1. This sounds like a fun series. I certainly don't have enough interest in fashion design to want to study it properly, but I do want to work towards making (and possibly designing) some of my own clothes, so I look forward to the ideas and resources you share :)

    (And hey, I have like 3 degrees and I'm currently not using any of them! Who cares? Life changes.)

    1. That's who this series is perfect for, Tanith! And 3 degrees?! No wonder I like you so much - smart lady!

      I definitely hope you find this series helpful. There will be lots of great links, input, and perhaps a guest post or two since I know quite a few people doing fashion design work in the industry.

  2. I have a degree in English and no one expects people with degrees in very general subjects like English to have a 'relevant' job, so I don't understand why having a more 'professional/vocational' degree should mean you have to work in that area only. Really looking forward to reading your series.

    1. Thanks! A day after this post, oddly enough I had a former aquaintence from college absolutely freak out at me on Facebook for "not using my degree". I don't think she had read this blog post and funnily enough, she's not working in the fashion design industry either! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!


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