For apparel, textiles and design majors, fashion is more than just a hobby

Senior Wendi Tripp at work cutting fabric for a project. <em>Photo: Emma Klak</em>A couple of sewing machines hum steadily, a few students are hunched over shirt and skirt patterns, dress forms are spread throughout the room, and the high-concentration level is palpable.

Welcome to the sewing lab, located in the basement of Howell Memorial Science Building, where apparel, textiles and design majors spend most of their time.

The ATD major has come a long way in recent years. Twenty years ago, ATD was part of the family and consumer sciences major. But 10 years ago, ATD became its own major, and three years ago, because of the major’s focus on design, it joined the Division of Art and Design.

Being part of the Division of Art and Design has given ATD majors and faculty a new opportunity: their own art exhibition. The show originated as an idea with two students. “My friend and I suggested it to our advisers and our teachers,” senior Wendi Tripp said. “We (as upperclassmen) wanted the opportunity to showcase our skill and our work somewhere besides the campus-wide competitions.”

Now, the idea has become a reality. Starting Feb. 10, ATD upperclassmen and faculty will present their work to the university family. Students will showcase apparel, dress sketches, needlework, assorted accessories and other items from various class projects.

“The exhibition really gives the opportunity for the [students] to show what they’ve done, what they can do now and helps prepare them for their jobs in the future,” said Miss Karen Flora, a faculty member in the Division of Art and Design. “For this exhibition, we are looking for quality over quantity, but in the future, we hope to build up the students’ portfolios starting their freshman year.”

What did the students have to go through to get to this point? For one thing, they had to do a lot of sewing. Almost every core class requires hours of time in the lab. For another, they had to learn design. According to Flora, being part of the art department gives students the chance to learn design on a different level. “If they can learn design, they have conquered one of the more challenging parts of the major,” she said. Construction I and II, textiles, fashion merchandising and design are just a few of the major classes.

Almost every class has an advanced level. This encourages the students not only to learn to be proficient now, but also to continue on and focus in the area they enjoy most. For junior Lauren Williams, that focus is design. “I want to be a fashion designer,” she said. “I love getting to make wearable art.”

The focus for Tripp is visual communication. “Any way in which a consumer views the product is considered visual communication,” she said. “You have to know a lot about composition, texture, color, lighting and photography. I get to take the author’s vision and turn it into a scene that makes sense.”

The fields of construction (both interior construction and alterations), retail management, fashion design and visual communications are wide open. While the ATD department is just starting to grow, it is already preparing and equipping students to perform and accomplish big things with the talents God has given them.