Fitting Fashion into High School

My high school is very art-centric, more money gets poured into the art departments than any of the sports teams. I guess that comes with the location, there aren’t many places to play football in the middle of Manhattan. I’m lucky in this way, I myself being more artistic than athletic, I have had many opportunities to showcase my talent.

I work in the drama department, making and designing costumes for my school plays. While most of what this entails is working with the director to make a costume plot, then thrifting for cheap versions of what you came up with, and altering that to fit the actor, it’s hard work, and a lot of people play it off as being easy. I highly recommend doing something like this for anyone interested in fashion design. It has helped me with technical skills, working within a budget, and how to design collaboratively. Also, your work is very appreciated, and gawked over because you can do something that a lot of people can’t do. You can make something out of nothing. Take something out of fantasy and into real life, even though sewing is, honestly, a really fundamental skill.

Being able to make clothes was a job expected of women and girls not even 100 years ago. It has become something so distant and other worldly. It has become an art form rather than a necessary craft. This isn’t something I’m complaining about, it has turned fashion into a real profession, something you can base your life off of. This I am thankful for. Fashion has given me a purpose, something to look forward to in the future, a goal to strive for. I tend to hold it a little to highly, fashion, make it seem like something it isn’t. Because when you strip away the layers, what fashion really is, is a business. And like all businesses there is a clock in the center of it, ticking away, like a heart counting down its last beats. In fashion, this clock, this heart, is design, and designers, the people who create the looks themselves. Without designers there would be nothing. So we must thank the men and women who toil away, designing our clothes, because without them the thing we love so much would be… nothing.



Hey everybody! It’s Emily, the blogger from last fall with the chickens and the hurricane. I actually just moved back home, and the chickens are back in their coop in the backyard.

Putting together a fashion design application portfolio is not the easiest task. Especially while juggling AP classes, homework, fine arts portfolios and costumes for two plays at school at the same time. Thankfully, I have my own room with a desk to work on everything, and the portfolio class on Saturday mornings, where I can work on projects specific to the application.

But putting together a portfolio is also a chance to reflect on my work from the past four years of programs, and while there isn’t much of a change to the feeling conveyed by my drawings, there is a definite improvement in technique. Before I came to class, I worked only in watercolor, and I couldn’t get the proportions right or really show that the clothes were separate from the figure. When I had to use the art markers, I was scared of them. I didn’t like the way I couldn’t control them, but it was easier to render the different fabrics.

By now, the fall 2013 semester, I have learned a lot of little tricks that add up to more accurate renderings, like having a tucked shirt bulge where it meets the waistband, or showing the different layers of fabric when pockets have been appliqued on. Another big thing is showing shadows- don’t be afraid of contrast! Fabric doesn’t lay flat on a body, it has curves and bumps and hills and valleys that all catch light and cast shadows. Folds happen too. Try to draw them, especially if an elbow or knee is bent. It adds another dimension to the drawing. Wrinkles happen when fabric is gathered, and all that is is an extra shadow. And all that’s just from asking questions and observing what was fixed in my drawing classes!

Sewing is another beast entirely, because with fabric, you can’t really force it to do something it’s not capable of without working with it. Soft, flowy  fabrics aren’t going to stand up straight without being fused to a stiff backing, and stiff fabrics aren’t going to drape like a softer one. Wovens will not stretch as much as knits will. Zippers are an ordeal to set, and hemming a circle skirt is not the easiest task in the world. I think everyone’s made the mistake of forgetting to add their seam allowance at least once, and ended up with a garment half an inch too small on all sides. Or had a one-way print and accidentally had it upside-down on half their garment. I actually just did that one on a flare skirt. But that’s the process. You make mistakes, learn from them, and then move on to other mistakes. Eventually, you just don’t make those mistakes anymore.

I would say the most important thing I’ve learned from taking all these classes (I’ve taken 7 so far!) is there’s always something more to learn. Coming into portfolio, I thought I was set, but the proportions on my figures were still not correct, and I was having trouble with leg positioning. But everyone in class has something to teach you, even if they aren’t the teacher. I learned how to render pockets from the girl in the row ahead of me in the fall of my sophomore year. I’m helping the girl next to me right now with shading.

Are there any tips/tricks you’ve learned that help you in class? Share them in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!



Congratulations Madison!


Student: Madison Banaszek
Major: Fashion Design

Courses taken in Precollege Programs include:
HAR 016 Creating the Fashion Figure
HAR 087  Advanced Fashion Design Art Techniques
HAR 089 Fashion Design Portfolio
 HAR 091 Anatomy of Fashion
HAP 026  Sewing for Fashion Designers
HTS 153 Crochet Design Techniques

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Sewing, Sparkles, and Halter Tops

This week I had free time in my sewing class. Well, I knew that I would have free time due to the fact that I had finished all my projects. My shirt had come out nicely, though I’m unhappy with the hemming as my machine had been giving my trouble. I brought enough fabric to class to make a dress. My friend and I had a photo shoot planned for Sunday, so I

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the purple, lacy skirt is the one i made.

thought it would be fun to make something using the industrial machines they have in class. My mum and I got there with fifty minutes to spare, so I got some coffee to keep me awake. I spent the first half of my sewing class making the dress. I had underestimated how long it would take me to sew the skirt, so I ended up modifying the basic blouse and sewing it to the skirt I made. I added a white zipper to the front, on the left side. It wasn’t very attractive but I did it more for practice then looks. Then in my fifteen minute break I went over to Gigi café and got some more coffee. I think I have a problem. Then I spent the rest of the class playing around with the dress and making a detachable collar. For lunch I went to the pita grill for falafel. Then I picked up the signup sheet for my draping class. Once class started I pinned my style tape back onto my dress form. We were finishing up the basic bodices. My professor had us all come to the front of the class once we had finished preparing our dress forms. She went over what we did during our last class, and then showed us how to finish the bodices. It was very complicated, so she went over it twice, and let us takes our time. I finished before our break, so she showed me what we were doing next. We would be draping halter tops, but we would get to decide how they would look. She told me to arrange my style tape on the dress form then show how everything would play out. Before I finished it was time for the break so I went on a walk. When I got back I finished preparing my dress form. I decided to do something asymmetrical, so I will be draping a full front and back, instead of halves. I spent the rest of the class measuring and cutting my front piece, then marking where the style tape was. We cleaned up the classroom and I went on my merry way. I’m really looking forward to doing my halter top; I think might use it to make a pattern. I also need to remember to bring more fabric to my sewing class next week.


Maybe Fashion Does Define Us

You know how people, mostly people involved in the fashion industry, always talk about how fashion defines them? How without fashion or art, they would have no purpose? I usually find this amusing, while it might be true. As much as I love designing, nothing makes me happier than when I have successfully sewed, draped, or sketched something. I feel like they have to be other things that designers enjoy. This Saturday, though, I realized that as funny as it may sound, without fashion I would spend all day napping! My father drove me into the city this week, so I didn’t have to dress for long bus waits and cold subway stations. I wore a new pair of pants, covered in tacky large red roses, and a plain black long sleeved shirt. I got the shirt second hand and I have studded the shoulders and added a few “artsy” holes near the neckline. I packed my backpack at six in the morning, so I didn’t really think out the fabrics I brought to class. I grabbed some striped black and

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How my jacket looked when I left!

white fabric and some stretchy lace. I got to class early, as usual, so I spoke with the girl who sits next to me until the professor came. I threaded my machine and started sketching. I hadn’t taken time to plan what I was going to sew, but I knew I wanted to make a dinner jacket vest-type-thing. I sketched a plain, fitted jacket, using the lace to end in an angled front. I can’t quite describe it, but it’s practically the complete opposite of what I ended up sewing, so it doesn’t matter. I cut out the front pieces, then discovered that the back would have to be pieced together, as I didn’t have enough fabric. This, once again, was not what I was planning. I don’t think I’m ready to do complicated fitting, but that’s what I did! Once I had my pieces cut out, I started the elaborate process of making it all work. This involved so many changes in design and fit that I was practically the last one out of the class. I had lunch quickly, then spent way too much time in the seventh floor bathroom, which has a large mirror, planning what I would need to fix on the jacket once I got home. You know I spent a long time because I wasn’t thirty minutes early to class! I did still get there before class started, so I wasn’t late. Last week I had started my halter top, because I finished my basic bodice drape early. My professor had us pin our basic bodices and skirts, which we had pinned together last week, to our dress forms so she could grade them. She explained how this week we would be making the cowl neckline, which looked really fun because it’s more creative. We had the choice of whether we wanted to do front or back, then deepness and thickness of folds. She showed us how to do the preparation for the draping. It was pretty simple- cut: block, press, find the thirty degree angle. By the time I finished, she had graded my drape so I got my dress form back. Then she showed us the first part of draping. I noticed that because we had already done the basic bodice, and this didn’t have any darts, it took her less time to explain. It took me a while to complete, though, as I played around with it. I chose to drape the back. I made the neckline pretty high up, considering back cowl necklines are usually deep. The bodice part was easy, pinning it and making it fit. i liked how everyone had drastically different drapes. the girl next to me had chosen to do a very low back drape, with only two or three folds, causing the drape to be small but full.  My professor then informed me that someone would be taking pictures of my dress drape, because it was one of the two best ones in the class. Only one other girl and I had our drapes photographed, so I guess mine came out alright. My professor then showed us how to mark our drapes. Once again, this step was pretty easy. Before we could true, we had our break, I spent it planning out the collar for my vest. Right after I had finished pinning the collar on, the class started again. Truing was fun. We had draped a full piece, but only marked half; we would mark the other half using

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My back cowl neckline drape, pretty nice!

tracing paper. This took me a while, as I tried not to rush truing my drape. I find that when I do rush, I make mistakes, as would be expected. By the time the class finished, I had draped, marked, trued, transferred, and cut my cowl neckline drape. It looked mighty fine, if I do say so myself. I will definitely be making it into a pattern and using it for myself. After I left my class I realized that while I was exhausted! I had just had more fun than I had had all week. I find it hard to be creative at home. I find myself sewing or drawing things I am unhappy with, but when I’m at FIT, I can make a fitted dinner jacket using stretchy lace and I like it! I can sketch in my head or in real life while eating lunch. I can drape something I would never drape at home, and get excited to use it in real life. I don’t think my ultimate dream is to be part of the high end world of fashion, I just can’t wait till all I do every day is sew, drape, sketch, and measure seam allowances!