Did you achieve your arts challenge?
My arts challenge was to design and make an items of clothes using a sewing machine, which I have definitely achieved as I have made some shorts which I can wear.
Did you have to change your action plan or your challenge in any way? If so, what changed and why?
I think in some ways I was very lucky being able to attend the Summer Fashion School in London https://www.summerfashionschool.com as I had teachers on hand to guide me through the process, as much of it was completely new to me. I didn’t really have to change my action plan, although originally I thought I might make a skirt. I decided to make some shorts, as I knew I would wear them more, especially as it has been so hot.
What went well? Why?
I really enjoyed learning about fashion designing, how to draw bodies using the 9 head technique and coming up with my own designs. I love drawing and using colour, so felt very comfortable doing this, even if I struggled with the legs and shoes at the start.
What was more challenging? Why?
The actual sewing part was really tricky, as there were so many new things to learn. I have never used a sewing machine, so first had to learn how to thread it, make it work with the foot pedal and sew in a straight line. Pinning and sewing the shorts together was also frustrating at times, as I caught two layers of fabric together a couple of times, and had to spend ages unpicking the stitches and doing it again. I would also sew on the trims as I am going along, rather than wait until the end. With the legs in particular, sewing on the trim as I was making it up, would have been easier if I hadn’t already done the side seams.
What have you learnt from doing your arts challenge?
I have learnt:
- How to write a blog on Voice and upload it,
- How to use a sewing machine,
- How to make my own patterns and copy patterns,
- How to use an over-locker,
- How to insert a zip,
- How to sew a seam,
- How to add a trim,
- How to produce a costing sheet,
- How to draw a figure illustration using the 9 head technique,
- How to add a pocket.
What would you do differently another time?
I would sew the lace on before I sewed the side seams.
Next I would like to make a shirt and learn how to insert a sleeve and add a collar.
What arts skills would you like to develop next?
I want to continue to develop my drawing skills using different materials such as charcoal and watercolours. It would also be fun to have a go a screen printing and learn about different printing techniques.
What did other people think of your arts challenge?
Most people said my sketch book was very good and that I had added a lot of detail. Kerry said shorts were a good idea for a first project and she was very impressed with my positive attitude and willingness to listen and learn.
What I have learnt from my arts research?
Having visited Saint Martins, and looked at websites of colleges which offer training in fashion tailoring and design, everyone seems to agree that a background in art, some science, and increasingly basic computer skills, form the foundation for careers in fashion. There is however no requirement for any specific subjects to be studied at GCSE or A level. Enthusiasm for fashion and a willingness to learn new skills seem to be all higher education colleges and universities are looking for and then a good, diverse portfolio is needed for interviews. Lots of different foundation courses are available but it seems the one-year course at Saint Martins is the most highly regarded by people I have spoken to.
I had no idea there were so many jobs and opportunities linked to fashion. Before I met Clare Burgess, who was head of buying for TopShop, I had never heard of merchandising. This can be studied now as a university course, although Clare started out as an admin assistant at Debenhams as a teenager. She explained there are now lots of apprenticeship opportunities for people to learn while they are working rather than studying at college. The instructors on my fashion course, by contrast, had both gone to university and formally studied fashion and design.
I felt very privileged to take part in a behind the scenes tour of Central Saint Martins and see first hand the diversity of courses available from high end suit tailoring to designing your own fabric and screen-printing it, ready to be made into something unique. Visiting Chelsea Library, and speaking to Nina, also made me realize that there is a whole world built round the fashion industry and jobs available in magazines, events, exhibitions and conferences aimed at promoting the fashion industry which I had never even thought of. She suggested I watch ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ which some people say is based on the editor of Vogue magazine and this gave me a glimpse into fashion writing and the industry.
There are many different jobs in fashion, but here are the top ten careers according to Drapers Jobs:
Fashion public relations
Having looked at both courses available and spoken to people in the industry, I have found out there is no one route into fashion, but there are hundreds of opportunities available. This has made me want to research other options and courses I could follow, especially regarding apprenticeships. I know some Haute Couture houses run their own unique sewing schools, but competition is very fierce. I had also never thought about the role of advertising or the part that social media now plays in building brands and selling clothes. For me personally, I am very interested in sustainable fashion and reducing the waste that fast fashion produces, and this is where I could potentially see myself getting involved in the future.
There are now a number of sustainable fashion courses which are both online and face to face: