Fashion Design Skills 101 – Skills That Fashion Schools Don’t Cover Nearly Enough

In fashion school, most of your time was spent learning to create fashion illustrations, draping, sewing, and flat patternmaking. While these are good skills to have, they aren’t very practical when you’re trying to land your first job in the fashion industry. In the real world you’ll be expected to know how to create computerized flat sketches, develop garment specs, CADs, and presentation boards. And I know some of you are thinking “But I learned those things in school too!” To which I reply: You think you know, but you have no idea! Take it from experience: fashion schools don’t focus on those skills nearly enough to fully prepare you for your first design position. In this article I will discuss each skill and its importance in the fashion industry.Draping and Patternmaking – Low ImportanceWhile patternmaking and draping are valuable skills, they usually only come in handy when you deal with a lot of fits. However, fittings are usually conducted by technical design teams so if you got into fashion for creative reasons, you’ll most likely be miserable in this type of position. On the creative side of design, all you need is a basic understanding of what creates a good fit, and how to fix a bad one. In the majority of design positions, hands-on patternmaking skills are not necessary, unless you plan to enter Project Runway!Sewing – Low ImportanceOn the creative side of design, sewing isn’t that relevant. Yes, it’s good to understand the general concepts of garment construction, but you don’t need to be a great seamstress. On the job, if you need to know how a certain garment is constructed, there are tons of references available: from clothes at the stores, to “how to” books and online articles. The point I’m trying to make is: if you’re sewing skills leave something to be desired, don’t stress over it.Illustration – Almost UnnecessarySadly, fashion illustrations are a dying art in the industry – they are scarcely used by designers in the real world. The fashion illustration has been replaced with computer drawn stylized technical sketches (floats) or more accurate technical flats, which are faster to sketch and much more practical. Not only do they present a clear representation of design concept, but they are a must have for production. Flats can be turned into CADs and can be used in mood/presentation boards. Fashion schools have not followed this shift and still focus more heavily on illustrations, and not enough on flat sketching.Computer Programs – Must KnowI can’t stress enough the importance of knowing popular computer applications for creating floats, flats and CADs. Most companies expect proficiency in Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Microsoft Excel since they are relatively affordable in comparison to more industry specific software. Unfortunately, the coverage of Illustrator and Photoshop provided by fashion schools does not meet the actual demands of the fashion industry. Many companies are also requesting knowledge of WebPDM, so if your college offers a course in this program, it would be to your benefit to take it. If your school does not teach this program, find a school or venue that does offer this program and take it!Flat Sketching – Must KnowWhile interviewing candidates for design positions, we’ve seen applicants’ portfolios filled with beautiful illustrations and then say “That’s nice, but can you flat sketch?” If flats are included in their portfolios, they are usually basic, lack important details, and are not visually appealing. If the candidates sketches are halfway decent; my next question is “do you know Illustrator and Photoshop? ” Almost everyone says yes, but it’s usually far from the truth.A lot of fashion school grads seriously believe that they know these programs well, but what you learned in school isn’t enough – fashion schools don’t teach these skills well enough for entry level designers to be competent within the fashion industry. Schools just cover basics, which are usually forgotten without practice. Take the extra effort to practice and become comfortable with Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and other programs beyond what schools teach: read books and take additional courses (offered in either classroom or online settings).Creating Specs in a Copycat Industry – Must KnowKnowing how to spec (measure and detail) a garment to create garment specifications, or “specs” is a fundamental skill. Many companies create their spec sheets using Excel. Although garment sizes and measurements vary from company to company, depending on different market segments and categories, if you know the principles, you’ll be able to quickly adapt to the standards of any company. You don’t even need to know how to develop specs from scratch!As a head designer, to set spec standards for a company, I usually went to different stores, found garments with a good fit and copied the basic measurements. This is quite common – the fashion industry is a copycat industry- most fashions hanging in the stores are knock-offs of another company. Once, during a shopping trip in London, a store salesperson noticed I was a fashion designer collecting style ideas. He mentioned that his store received a constant flow of American design companies such as Calvin Klein, whose designers come to knockoff their merchandise. That’s right – even top designer brands use knockoffs for their ready-to-wear collections. There are even official terms: a “knockoff” is when a style is copied and a “rub-off” is when patterns are copied.Educate Yourself!Many fashion schools such as FIT in New York (Fashion Institute of Technology) offer important classes like “flats and specs for the fashion industry”, but believe it or not, these courses are not required by the curriculum! Another handy course that should be taken is “creative fashion presentation.” Salespeople use presentations a lot as visual aids. In addition they create a good impression and convey creativity level. If you can make outstanding presentations you’ll be assigned to do them often, and believe me it’s more fun to make boards than do fits or send faxes and organize showrooms.To sum up: in order to get a job before the rest of the entry level fashion design candidates, you need to focus on refining skills that are highly demanded in the industry. Become proficient with flat sketching, include flats in your portfolio, and be extremely comfortable and knowledgeable in Illustrator and Photoshop. Not only will you be ready with the skills you need to succeed in fashion, but discussing how you went the extra mile to keep up with industry standards will definitely impress any prospective employer!For your reference and use, we have posted lots of industry standard flat sketches and CADs in JPEG and vector (Illustrator) formats on DesignersNexus.com. If you can improve your skills to reach the quality of those shown, you’ll be in a very good shape¬© 2008 Designers Nexus Inc. All rights reserved. Originally published at DesignersNexus.com. This article may be reproduced unedited, unaltered and in its entirety. This copyright, author bio(s) and all active links must be preserved and included when reproducing this article. Contact us for approval if you wish to publish it contrary to these guidelines.

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Alternative Home Designs – Atriums

Building a home for yourself is the American Dream. For some people, it is important to build something unique.Alternative Home DesignsYou’ve worked your rear end off and reached a financial status where you can do some dreaming. One dream is to buy some land and build a home on it. You’ve found the perfect plot, and now you’re wondering about different styles of homes. Here are some alternative designs to get the creative thoughts flowing.A very unique home design is the atrium home. An atrium home is designed to emphasize an open middle area, not an exterior appearance. If you’ve been to Europe, you’ve seen this design in larger cities. You’ll be walking down a street lined with bland looking windows. You pop into one of the buildings to find a bathroom and it is like entering another world. The exterior of the building is no great shakes, but the interior is a slice of atrium heaven with an open area covered in a lattice or left wide open. The interior is a collection of sitting areas, plants and perhaps small pools for fish. Not a bad idea, eh?Taking the design to its full scope, the home is designed…underground. The design can be done in a variety of ways, but it is built below ground to take advantage of geothermal concepts. The primary idea is to use the constant temperature of the ground to regulate the climate in the home. The top of the roof is flush with the level of the ground and everything else is below level. For practically purposes, picture an oasis in the desert, but dug into the ground.In these modern times, the below ground design has some excellent energy options. You can put solar panels across the top of the roof to generate power and most people will be none the wiser. By being out of the wind, you also cut down on wasted energy.Going below ground with your atrium home is a pool of creative opportunity. As long as you take care of drainage issues, the design parameters are pretty much wide open.When space is at a premium or privacy is vital, atrium homes are often the answer. In a large city, an atrium design can help you create an oasis from the noise and madness of daily life.

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5 Things to Think About When Planning for Your Home Design

Planning for your home requires a more extensive approach and a lot of decision making to do compare to when buying one. Finding the perfect building lot is already a challenge, designing how your future abode will look like is another challenge. Putting together your dream home design on the current lot that you have as well as balancing the act of planning and budgeting can be quite difficult and may require professional help.Here are some of the ways that can help you on your way.Research for your dream home designOne must decide on what type of home they are about to build before actually designing how it looks like. It would be advisable to have a list of the things that you want your home to have prior to creating the blueprint. House styles today have different offerings, so it would be wise to browse for ideas before actually putting all these ideas into paper.A quick sketch would also help in conceptualizing your dream home. Since you do not have to implement this design yet, you can still get ideas and mix and match the things that you want to have inside and outside your home. However, it is important to know the basics that would be included in your home such as the number of rooms, family areas, dining rooms, garage, kitchen features and bathroom features that you would want to have. Planning for internet connections as well as the cable and phone connections is also advisable.Check local zoning laws and building permitsUpon the completion of your blueprint, the next step necessary would be getting the necessary permits and existing zoning laws and standards in your area. Be sure to implement structural specifications required for buildings that are constructed in your area. This can save you many headaches that you may experience during the actual construction of your home.Designing within your budgetNo matter how stunning you may want your home to look and feel like, you still need to shell out a certain amount of money to be able to execute your plan. Compare your current plan with the budget that you have and willing to spare for your dream home and adjust accordingly to fit. Take note that spending too much may lead you not having enough to buy furnishings for your dream home. Plot where your current budget can get you through with the construction of your home and budget accordingly on what you can really acquire as your budget during the actual construction. It is better to adjust now with your plan rather than having to sacrifice the quality of the construction of your home once your budget starts to hurt.Design to fit your plotConsider the actual lot area that you have prior to implementing your house plans. Do you want to have a large lawn and a backyard? Do you want to locate your home just a few meters away from the street to maximize the area of the plot that you have? Slopes should also be taken into consideration to be able to control backfilling and excavation costs that may be required to execute the design that you want for your home.Locate bedrooms in areas where you get to enjoy the privacy that you require and place windows in areas that will help in making your homes more energy efficient.Maximize your space efficiencyMake sure that you have a logical flow on your home design. The kitchen and laundry areas should be located near each other to conserve on plumbing installations. Design areas like the kitchen with access to areas like the garage or areas where you require such accessibility. Be sure that your actual furniture would fit in the layout that you have created.

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