When it comes to design education, complete creative freedom doesn’t always yield the best outcomes. A class project at West Virginia University indicated that some boundaries can benefit the creative – and educational – process.

Kathryn Eason, an assistant professor of fashion design and merchandising in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, noticed something when teaching budding apparel designers – namely that choosing a textile can be a struggle.

In an effort to address this challenge, Eason and her colleagues worked to create a cross-course project in which students created a garment that highlighted the interrelated nature of textile and apparel design.

“Students in a 100-level textiles course created digital prints to be used by a 200-level flat pattern course as the starting point for the design process,” Eason explained.

Eason described the project as “very successful and had positive results. Since the textile selection was ‘outsourced’ to the textiles course, the apparel students had to make their decisions based on the integrity of the engineered print and its potential use.”

Eason and Angela Dial, a freelance designer and instructor in WVU’s fashion program, won the 2013 ATEXINC Award for Innovation in Textile Instruction at the annual meeting of the International Textile and Apparel Association for the project.

The project forced the apparel students to consider fabric construction and print as a starting point for design development and this challenged the students to practice disengaging from personal “I don’t like it” critiques. Some students chose to honor the print and fabric they were given in the design process, whereas others decided to keep the fabric as a secondary focus to their envisioned pattern.

“The apparel students were able to consider the importance of textile choices in the design process and the textiles students were able to see their work fully realized onto a garment,” Eason said.

The project tracks closely with professional requirements students will face in their design careers.

“This created a more realistic design process as most apparel companies use specific fabrics and prints that designers then have to respect as they are creating new garments and styles,” Eason said. “For example, most companies have basic colors (they may even be protected colors made specifically for the brand – like the WVU blue and gold) and to this seasonal colors are added to create more ‘trend targeted’ items.”



CONTACT: David Welsh, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design
304-293-2394, David.Welsh@mail.wvu.edu

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