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Friday, April 28, 2006

Part IIA: My FIT experience - 1st and 2nd year

My experience at FIT was a fairly positive one. I had some very interesting classes and sometimes I wish I was still there! Life was a lot simpler then, though I never realized it til I was out of school and in the sometimes very unforgiving fashion industry.

When my friends from high school would come home from break and we would meet up, they were shocked by the type of course work I was doing. While they are writing term papers and spending hours in boring lecture halls, I was sewing, drawing, and draping! It wasn't as easy as it sounded and deadlines were tight, but it was a lot more fun than they were having!


I found FIT was unique in that freshman foundation courses were non-existent. From day one we were immersed in course work directly related to our major. One reason for this related to the fact that FIT offers their program in two separate sections. After 2 years, you receive an AAS degree. You then apply for the BFA program and continue for another 2 years. In the BFA program you concentrate on a specific area of study - for me it was knitwear.

During the 1st and 2nd semesters, they build your garment construction skills with classes such as draping, sewing and patternmaking. Prior sewing experience helps a lot! Drawing a pretty picture means nothing if you don't know how to construct it. Draping classes were a total of 7 hours long split over two days. Sewing and patternmaking classes were 4 hours long.

We also had several drawing courses to tune our eye and train our hand. We had classes with live models where we learned proportion and how to draw fashion croquis. Croquis are very un-human, skinny, tall bodies we use to draw our designs on. Our skills were further tuned with a life drawing class. Fashion illustration combined drawing croquis and clothing the figures with our designs. They focused on how to draw the garment so it hangs correctly on the body, how to work with markers, how to style hair and make-up, etc. Drawing classes typically lasted about 4 hours.

However, just because I was in a Fashion program didn't mean I didn't have to take any "real" courses. Two semesters of English and Art History were required, along with science and math classes.

My third and fourth semesters built upon the skills already taught in the first year. Fourth semester focused on how to put together a portfolio on the illustration end. On the sewing/draping end we were required to create a garment which was exhibited in the annual Fashion Show. We were each required to create one look and had 12 weeks to complete it. Usually a fashion show exhibits your senior collection and will consist of 5-10 looks, but because this was a two year program not all students were continuing their studies. It was also a very large program with about 120 students so 5-10 looks each were out of the question.

Sometimes I wish I had gone to a different school so I could have had a senior collection, but now that I'm in the "real-world" I realize it wouldn't have mattered one bit. Also, there aren't too many four year programs that offer studies in specializations such as knitwear. In my next installment, I'll talk about my course work from my third and fourth year, knitwear specialization, and my internship for a sweater company.

Grannie Smith KAL

Since a few of you guys working on Grannie Smith asked for a KAL - you got it! You can find all the info on how to sign up here. I hope it provides a good space for everyone to ask questions, get support and show off your progress!

I hope to be back later on with Part II: My experience at FIT. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Part 1 - Fashion School

One way to get a very good working knowledge of the industry is to attend a college that offers courses in fashion design. Here are a few that I know to have a pretty good reputation from my personal experience:

Fashion Institute of Technology
Parsons School of Design
Moore College
Philadelphia University (College of Textiles)
Rhode Island School of Design
Drexel University
The Art Institute

Working in New York, I mainly come across graduates from the above schools since they are all on the east coast. I don't know too much about mid-west and west coast schools.

When selecting a good fashion program you should consider:

teacher experience in the industry - most colleges require 5 + years of experience
4 year program or 2?
internship program
career center
placement rate
program size
class size
are different specializations offered? (knitwear, children's wear, tailoring, lingerie, etc)
culture - is the school in the middle of a city (tons of museums and stores) or in the middle of no where (nothing but a local mall around for miles!)

Many fashion programs are becoming more and more competitive, so having a good portfolio and SAT scores are usually required for most colleges. Depending on the school, the portfolio requirements will be different. Some require a more general portfolio (still life, figure drawing) and others require a strict fashion design portfolio (croquis, flats, inspiration boards). When building a portfolio - don't rush! This should be a collection of your best work from over a period of time.

Going to school full time isn't the only option, night classes and special seminars are also offered at some colleges. Want to learn how to use a knitting machine? FIT offers a weekend course that meet 2 or 3 times. Want to learn Illustrator for fashion? Take a night course 1 night a week for a couple of weeks.

In Part II, I'll discuss in more detail my experience at FIT - some courses I took and the type of assignments I was given. What was useful, what wasn't. How it helped me to prepare for the industry and what I wish they would have told us but didn't.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Little Fashion Series Coming Soon

Sorry for the boring, pictureless posts - but again only secret knitting and 7 more inches of boring jersey DB sweater knitting going on here!

I'm excited that some of you are interested in my experience as a designer in the industry and I'm sorry that I haven't quite gotten around to writing anything about it yet. I figured out that it takes a bit more research to write about something informational than just rambling about my current knitting project!

I hope to have something up before the end of the week. I'm going to start off with a short little bit how to get into the industry - and not all the signs point to going to fashion school. Then I'll move into the in's and out's of my experiences so far. After that maybe we'll talk a little bit of trend and color for Fall 06. If that seems a bit ahead, take into consideration that I'm working on Spring 07 already!

A short little knitting news tidbit - my two broken 5" Brittney DP have been replaced! Now I can finish my other chameleon sock - well, if I had time! I also bought some 2's and 3's this weekend. I just love these needles!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Secret Knitting

Haven't updated too frequently due to the secret knitting project for Magknits. I would have updated with the 7" of jersey I've completed on the DB Raglan, but I didn't want to bore everyone to death! Even after this batch of secret knitting is finished, there might be a whole new batch soon. I'm working on something with someone and that's all I can say for the moment! It's very exciting and I wish I could spill the beans, but you'll all find out soon enough!

Considering that I may not be getting too much personal knitting done in the near future, I've been trying to think of other things I can talk about. Here's a couple of suggestions that some of you may be interested in:

How to become a designer in the fashion industry
How the fashion industry works (real life - not project runway somewhat real life!)
Current trends/color direction for the season

I'm always asked a lot of questions about what really goes on and how you get here, so maybe you guys would be interested too? Drop me a line, let me know what you think! I would also love to do a little series on designing for handknits, but I just don't have the time right now to devote to something like that. Maybe in the future when things slow down a bit!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Knitty is up!

The new knitty is up - strange that I never got my usual email update. But I saw this and I thought it was funny. Sometimes the naming muse is just in the air!

Not too much knitting progress to report. I'm really kicking butt on the secret Magknits project, but can't show off quite yet! I'm really enjoying working on this project and I hope others will too!

Went down to Soho this weekend for a shopping excursion and finally got to visit purl patchwork. What an inspiring store! The fabrics and colors are absolutely beautiful and so inspiring. After leaving the store, DB and I couldn't help but feel happy! I did make one purchase for my sewiknit-along bag project. I decided on Amy Butler's Weekender Bag pattern. It will come in handy for all the weekend train trips to Philly. My black jansport backpack (from high school - graduated in 98') will be sad on being retired, but the new bag will be so much more fun (and updated)! I'm still deciding on what fabrics to use and I'll probably end up ordering something online. That said, I don't think my bag will be finished for the deadline - april 30th. I don't want to rush this project like the skirt and I have so much going on this month already!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

It's Been a Strange Week

It's been such a strange week! I don't know if it's the time change, the snow, or the planets doing something funky - maybe even all three? Whatever it is, I hope it stops soon! Here's a small recap of what's been going down in the knitting universe.


Here is a picture of my finished sock carelessly thrown on top of my junk. Why haven't I started a second sock? Well, I was a silly girl and thought I could carry around size 1 needles in my messenger bag for 3 days and not end up with broken needles. When I got to LIC SnB Tuesday night I surveyed the damage - 2 needles broken. So no sister for this sock until I replace the needles.

DB's sweater (formally known as the fiance sweater):
I'm tired of calling him "my fiance" so now he will be referred to as "DB" :) This sorry piece of knitting is what is left after I ripped out 10" of stockinette and went down a pattern size. Now it is the correct size and I can knit on in all it's boring jersey glory.


I've had another pattern selected for Magknits! This is my second pattern to be accepted and will be in either the June or July issue. I've been in math land for a few days and cast on (for the fourth time) tonight. It needs to be completed by May 15th, so I better get moving! This pushed back plans for another pattern, but they'll all get done eventually!

And finally for PS April I've decided to revisit an abandoned sweater from 2 years ago:

It's a wrap sweater from Phildar. My row gauge didn't quite match the pattern, but I apparently threw caution to the wind and ended up with a front that was much longer than the back. Not to mention I started to run out of yarn. So I will be frogging, re-drafting the pattern and re-knitting for April. Doubt I'll finish, but at least it has been pulled out to see the light of day once more!