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Now if you visit other forums my may see this question posted, I’m tired of looking for an online school. And just really need to take matter into my own hands.

I really want to learn fashion design but going to school right now is not an option for me right now ( I have eight kids and not in my home country). I’ve been looking online for months now for an online school and only found one and its expensive, so I can’t do that and the other two Foster Career and Stratford look as if they just send you text they rewritten and just test you on what you read ,not skill. I have plenty of books so I don’t need that. etelestia is affordable but they seem to use some special system that needs special equipment, I don’t think that is a good idea since the items are not easy to get. I have bought a lot of books on patternmaking and construction but I don’t know where to start nor have someone to ask if I’m not sure about something. I’m trying Cal Patch’s book as a starting point but the armhole is just not coming out right for me, I have not made it up in muslin because getting that stuff is not easy so I have wait to get some more but why waste it when just looking at the draft I can tell its not right ( or at least not look right to me). The last winner of Project Runway a self taught designer so I know it can be done I just don’t know were to start or best route. How did you do it? Where did you start? How do I progress? I want to make my own designs and independence from the pattern companies when I want it ( I still like Burda). I want to be able to sell my own designs and maybe my own patterns someday.

I have some what of a plan right now. I’m currently finding good basic patterns that I can make for myself that I can restyle to work on my construction skills, build my wardrobe and also because I still love to sew, I know that some designers don’t. This should free up more of my limited time to put into learning other skills . How and where to start I don’t know.

TIA to anyone that replies to my rant.


11 Posts Sign in to add a post

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    Jun 30, 2010, 04.15 AMby mlssfshn

    Start with basic blocks and manipulate them to learn how to adjust. Allison has put some on the website you can download for free or when I started I bought Vogue fitting patterns and glued them to cardboard. If muslin is hard to come by get sheets from the thrift store and if you still have little to work with half size is a good way to practice. I actually do some of my garments in half size first. Schedule some time each day to practice and if you know what your wanting to draft but are not quite getting it, look ar the pattern pieces for an existing garment that has the same elements. I started a read along here for Harriett Pepin’s book on sewing.info but my students had to quit and my line is taking off so I didn’t make it past chapter 4. Patience in the process is a virtue and realizing it’s a trial and error process and that it’s never right the first time. Most of my patterns take 3-5 drafts and 2-3 muslins to get exactly as I want them to be.

    2 Replies
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      Jun 30, 2010, 09.31 AMby katexxxxxx

      This is exactly it.

      I’d add that it is probably best to start with one of the classic flat pattern drafting and manipulation texts such as Winifred Aldrich.

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      Jul 2, 2010, 10.22 PMby sewmodest

      mlssfshn , I never thought about half size, but think given what I have that is best for me and when I think I have it transfer it to full size. Patience is something I’m lacking right now and I need that. I just know that time is going by and I need to put it to better use. Thank you so much for the info

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    Jun 30, 2010, 10.46 AMby anajan

    There’s no defined route for self teaching. It requires a lot of trial and error, reading and absorbing any sort of information on drafting, and I believe that every person defines his/her evolution path. I sewed only by using commercial patterns for 10 years before I started drafting my own patterns. I still learn, step by step, and I try to incorporate the details that inspire me into my designs. It takes some time, I have to brainstorm about every detail before figuring out how ti execute my idea.

    1 Reply
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      Jul 2, 2010, 10.27 PMby sewmodest

      I was think along those lines. Starting off with commercial patterns to get an idea of how things are put together and how they should look so that maybe it would make me better at drafting patterns. I have been sewing off and on (mostly off) for about 8 years now, but I still have not done a lot of different things but now that I plan to have more time for myself, hopefully I can make better progress in the next 8 years.

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    Jun 30, 2010, 11.04 AMby floreedith

    Just dont panic, draft your designs, and see if you have the basic pattern (if dressmaking) and then follow your instincts on it, just remember to give yourself a wider margin in seeam allowance first, I tend to use cheaper fabrics (light calico etc) to start the original and make adjustments as I go along.

    I think you know more than you give yourself credit for….I am a designer maker who makes all hers stuff purely by intuition and instinct and I have proved that I know more about what I do than those who went to study it. I am therefore not at all affect by influence of those who are now restricted by the must or should be like that….my designs are more adventurous because I am unaffected by the guidelines of a teacher!

    You can do it, just follow your heart and desire! All the best x

    1 Reply
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      Jul 2, 2010, 10.29 PMby sewmodest

      Thanks for the well wishes. I guess I am doubting myself too much and am looking for the “right” or correct" way when it can be “any” way as long as it gets me to were I want. Never thought about it like that.

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    Jul 1, 2010, 09.58 PMby gedwoods

    I think the self-learning route is a tough road to follow (it is the one I’ve followed!) but that with perseverence and a certain streak of stubborness, you can get where you want to go. I have found Bob Martin’s online forum to be a useful place for bringing up design issues and discussing them. It costs money to join, and I was skeptical, but the advice I got from Bob in response to some of my posts more than justified the expenditure. The designer community he has is still small, but he is a smart guy and offers great insights into designing. Look at his video postings on BurdaStyle to get some feeling for what he does. I’d like to see more “designer-oriented” online sites – Bob Martin’s is the only one I’ve really seen that addresses the issue head on. The rest of the time (well, all the time actually), it is really trial and error.

    If you go the route of using patterns, you need to teach yourself how to manipulate and modify them, using Winifred Aldrich’s approach or something similar. I started with another reference book which I still use occasionally, but found Aldrich’s books to be more precise and directly useful than the earlier reference I used. I also found Harriet Pepin’s book (free on line at www.vintagesewing.info) to be a very useful reference for flat pattern manipulation.

    After two years of intensive work (when not doing what I’m paid to do!), I have developed a basic understanding of a whole range of garments and how to turn patterns into finished products. I’m now finding that I need to learn draping techniques to move behind the “flatness” of flat pattern manipulation, and that is what I am now struggling with. I have been teaching myself how to make boned garments, so I can introduce more 3d structure into clothes. I am working towards my first collection, planned for next year, as my design ideas are beginning to take shape, but this is two years past my initial plan formulation! So time is important, ideas take time to percolate and emerge into more fully elaborated versions. Bit by bit, the pieces are beginning to come together for me… I am sure they also will for you. And have fun while you’re doing it, otherwise, what’s the point!

    1 Reply
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      Jul 2, 2010, 10.36 PMby sewmodest

      I first saw Bob Martin on ebay, but what I got from his advertisements was just a beginners guide to anyone interested in fashion but not a lot of teaching or showing you how. I guess more like intro to a course but not the course itself ( clear as mud?). I’ll have a look at his burda post and see what I’m missing, and see if signing up for is board is good of me. One thing I’m seeing in everyone’s post is to just be patient, 2) take my time and 3)find my own distinct way of learning this art. Thanks so much and hope things work out for you.

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    Jul 2, 2010, 10.19 PMby sewmodest

    Wow, Thank you soooo much everyone. I never expected to get much of a response since I’m not as active online as others. But you all have made me feel so much better. Forget panicked, I think I am past that, but I am getting a since of calm now after reading everyone’s response, now I just need to plan.

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    Jul 4, 2010, 09.39 PMby magdamagda

    just start somewhere and then accumulating information and everything you will see how your perception abt your skills will change… take on new challenges, take them seriously but let yourself feel free in the process- you wouldn’t want to put to sleep your creativity which is the one thing that will make all the difference after all – and is also the fountain of satisfaction in pursuing design.. i see the others gave you lots of useful advice abt improving skills, so i’m kind of pointing to the other complementary ingredients: dream a lot, best ideas will come when you are not trying, brainstorm when you feel creative and visualize ideas that you can’t wait to put into practice, draw quick sketches of everything that seems important…all that is a dynamic process and it doesn’t take any shortcuts… bottom line is no matter how much you practice pattern making/scaling etc, don’t forget to make it Your journey, put your mark on all destinations, make it personal and enjoy it…one step will lead to another, don’t forget that you can move left/right, front/back , up/down… take the challenge with everything it supposes and trust yourself to lead the way!…good luck!

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    Jul 7, 2010, 01.43 PMby nystyle

    In response to Bob Martin’s video lessons how to fashion design, I have seen the videos. Bob teaches fashion design using his learning experience from college. In this lesson he shows you how to begin and progress in each part of fashion design. It follows a step by step teaching approach so that you learn everything you need to know acurately and in order. The parts are sewing, design, and drawing.

    He is an excellent teacher and has a great way of relating to you as a student. I would recommend this lesson for any one who wants to actually be a designer. You can checkout his videos on youtube http://www.youtube.com/user/howtofashiondesign or howtofashiondesign.com, his site. Hope that is helpful..Best of luck!

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    Jun 14, 2011, 09.40 PMby Tawn Jackson

    Hello Sewmodest, I just wanted to give you some more inspiration. http://www.vennicaprice.com/ and http://www.brookdelorme.com/ I believe both young women are self taught designers who do it all themselves! They are such an inspiration! Lori Kyler Christensen the woman behind Vennicaprice has posted some vlogs, video logs that speak about her process and how she does it. I think there’s a lot of mystery behind what people do. It all depends on what your end goal is. If you desire to be in every mall across the country that’s one thing, but if your goal is simply to fuel your desire to create and sell on your own terms I think looking at these two links will inspire you.

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    Dec 22, 2011, 06.44 PMby soujourner

    I started by sketching my designs during spare time, then figuring out how the pieces would fit together. I suggest starting with simpler stuff and working your way up.

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    Dec 23, 2011, 12.05 AMby Mari Np

    I don’t consider myself as a self-taught designer,but I guess if I wanted to make my leaving out of designing clothes, I would start selling what I have already made on websites right now (Etsy for instance). In fact, I have found that posting my projects on Burda has pushed me to improve myself, as I received different feedbacks for each item. Consequently, I think that putting your clothes out for sale on a website would be a good way to motivate yourself, to get a positive idea of how much progress you need to make before being able to earn money from your work, and would help you progressively take part in this professional area.

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    Dec 24, 2011, 01.11 AMby mickeygirl

    You have some books good. get some fabric and sewing machine. basic supplies: paper, pencil. rulers, curved ruler (or something shaped that way – a plate. pins etc.

    1. make a basic pattern – sloper — could be your size but in fashion schools they make use a pattern to fit your “judy” dress form. At least you can wear what you make. make bodice, skirt, sleeve, torso and pant. Later make coat and other drafts with more ease or lingerie/swimwear drafts (difficult to find information but patternschool is a good website.

    2. learn to manipulate darts in the bust and skirt

    3. learn to add gathers, ruffles, flounces, seams, yokes, collars, cuffs. experiment with different sleeve styles

    4. learn some fashion illustration and terminology of design and pattern drafting.

    5. learn pattern grading

    6. learn how to costing, techniques for production sewing

    7. learn marketing techniques, book keeping and how to run your business to make money

    • This is a question
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