From the Archive: Apparel Design Technology Resources for the Classroom

(Jenna Shaw, UD Destination India Project, 2011)

What do students benefit from knowing as far as Apparel Design Technology upon graduation as they head out into the field? I have been asking this very question to many design professionals who are working in the field currently as I teach many of the technology courses in my design program. As technology changes and as our departmental budgets decrease how can I best prepare my students to be marketable and succeed in an increasingly difficult environment?

Being of the “Do It Yourself” generation, I troll the interwebs for low cost opportunities  students can access to learn and practice their expertise post graduation, post CAD lab with it’s many software privileges.

Google sketch up fascinates me, I wish Google would create a similar Illustrator like program for students to access post graduation when they often lack money to buy expensive software.

A good resource is fashion incubator:

Kathleen Fasanella has really created quite a community. I require my senior students purchase her book (as many of them have dreams of being fashion entrepreneurs, Kathleen offers a good dose of reality in her coveted book). I did read in fashion incubator once that one can create flats in excel! There is a small fee to be apart of the insider forum which is well worth it.

(Bryant, M. W., & DeMers, D. (2006). The spec manual. New York: Fairchild Publications.)

From my conversations with former students and Industry colleagues a few things are certain:

1. Knowledge of Illustrator and Photoshop are key and good fashion based texts are being published recently in support of this training in the classroom. I can offer suggestions if you email. If you have a good text you would like to recommend, please comment below!

2. Working knowledge of PDM and product workflow is essential. Note: we do not have a PDM or PLM program in my department. I try and pair with an Industry partner who can share a demo of their working system for my product development classes.

3. Knowledge of the product development calendar. This is something our Advisory board stresses.  There is a disconnect between creating a design in an academic setting and developing product in a timely manner.

4. Knowledge of textiles. I imagine all students go through some textile science courses, I think what lacks in the courses is real hands on knowledge. Someone who has created a screen-printed or digital pattern has a knowledge of design that lacks in the student who has simply read about it in their textile science books. A student with hands on knowledge of print, weave or knit has a leg up in the job market. If we can not offer hands on training, we could guide our students towards internships or industry experiences that offer such training.

5. Tech packs. The bulk of my former students now spend their time creating tech packs. It is not glamorous but does give them “stepping stone” knowledge. I was amazed when working with a technical design school in Honduras that each collection piece had a companion tech pack! I now require my students to go through a technical package process for at least one of their senior collections.

6. Digital Patternmaking: Which of course, should be introduced AFTER students have a handle on flat pattern and draping by hand. I have had love and hate relationships with many software programs which I won’t discuss here although I would love to hear your comments. Currently, I am running a digital patternmaking project.

(Lee, J., & Steen, C. (2010). Technical sourcebook for designers. New York: Fairchild Books.)


I have no definitive answers this week. I would more so like to open up this post as a venue to discuss technology in the classroom. What are you teaching? What programs are working/not working for you? What do your Industry partners suggest? Have you polled your former students? If so, what are they saying?  If not, Poll them and contribute to the discussion!

Our goal as teachers is to prepare our students to shine in the Industry and in Academia as future teachers. This blog provides a forum for us as fashion academics  to set some baseline and aspirational  standards. I encourage comments and suggestions.

Happy Teaching!

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