Last year, I went back to school to get my degree in fashion design. The final test was to design a mini collection and present it to a panel of industry professionals. This three part series is the story of this amazing and intense adventure.

Fashion school

Going back to school was an incredible opportunity but it had its drawbacks too. Being a nearly-thirty-something going back to a student schedule and its twenty-something students was a bit strange at first. But thankfully it got normal and easier pretty quickly. My husband was a huge help in making the transition smooth and I’ll be forever grateful for his support and cooking skills!

Listing everything that I learned wouldn’t be possible. However, I think that you would find interesting the story behind the making of a fashion collection. You’ll then be able to see the actual creative process and its results.

Today will be focused on the designing part of the journey. While part two will focus more on the work done around the collection and its fashion industry requisites, part three will reveal the marketing aspect behind this project and what the future will look like for this blog.

Inspiration

So let’s talk about the collection! The brief was simple: design a cohesive collection of minimum ten drawings and physically create four complete looks to present to a jury. In addition, write a marketing report and a technical one too.

Sound easy right? Well it certainly wasn’t!

I chose my collection’s theme base on a passion that always inspires me: traveling. At the moment, I’m totally in love with the nordic lifestyle and the breathtaking landscape that can be found in the northern parts of the world. Blame it on recent trips to Iceland or Stockholm, but I can’t stop thinking about the serenity and calm these holidays brought me. So that settles it then, nordic it will be.
At first, when doing research for a fashion project, it’s always a good idea to make a moodboard representing the direction that the collection will take.

To give you an idea, here’s mine:

You can see here the conflicting images of snow and urban architecture. Personally, I’ve always felt that the Scandinavians are very close to nature and embrace it as part of their way of life. Their architecture is always very open and bright while still using the angles and straight lines inspired by snowflakes. Because I’ve always thought that despite their extreme natural environment, they always celebrated colour and happiness, the northern light images were added to the mix. They give to the ensemble a cheerful quality and bring new visual perspectives to the rest of the moodboard.

Designing the collection

Then came the long process of actually designing the clothes.
Inspired by the nordic mood, I started sketching, drawing and testing possible design ideas for the collection. It was a long adventure from idea to actual garment but in the end, it’s totally worth it.
At this stage, the goal is to just sketch without thinking too much.

Then, when a good amount of ideas have been brainstormed, comes the part where you make choices and start giving a direction to your designs.
Once happy with the looks I came up with, then comes the more technical part of pattern making and toile (or muslin) sewing. That’s the stage where every details and style lines needs to be tested for real in fabric. For some garments, I had to make as much as 5 or 6 different muslins to get the fit and design right. However, it’s crucial that to get the pattern just right before cutting into the nice expensive fabric bought for the final prototype.

 

After all this comes the sweatshop part of this journey. Because I decided to work on a winter collection, there was a total of thirteen different clothes to be made. Including two coats, several trousers and a few knitted accessories! And in good fashion industry style, I had a little under three weeks to make it all happen.

Now I think you’re starting to see the reason behind my going silent for a few months. The sewing room became a no man’s land (and certainly no cats either!). Piles of fabric were threatening to drown me while sewing and boxes of zippers, piping and other finishing touches were scattered everywhere in the room. But I did make it through. Sleep deprived and stressed yes, but the collection was becoming a reality.

I’m sure that at that part of the story you’re feeling like it’s drawing to an end. How nice that would have been!
Now that the looks were sewn, there’s the slight detail of finishing writing two complete marketing and technical reports. Plus the collection had to be showcased with a photo shoot.
But this will be a story for another time. The second part of this project will be published next week. To be the first to hear about it, you can follow Stitch-N-Smile’s Facebook or Instagram account.
See you soon for the next part of the journey.