That “fashion thing” started off on my first day at Clothing Construction-101. I was taking evening classes while still working full time at the hospital. Even though there would be long days, it didn’t matter. I was here to learn. I walked in with my professional clothes, matching heels and all my binders and folders, ready to receive the syllabus. But what came next had me second guessing this whole fashion thing… what did I just get myself into?!
I scanned the classroom. Sewing machines, ironing boards, large cutting tables, dress forms with clothes pinned onto them, and sewing tools strewn all over. This was a scene that I was not familiar with. I was used to science labs, handouts, boring lectures, and taking notes. After seeing the scene of this classroom I thought to myself… “Was I going to fit in?”
The class I was taking was an introduction to sewing. Here we would learn how to read a ready-made pattern and sew the garment. Believe me, I knew how to sew. That was due to my home economics class back in middle school. I could thread a sewing machine with my eyes closed, but there were students in the class who couldn’t. I had to be patient.
What was interesting about taking fashion classes was not so much the classroom part, but the classroom dynamics. There were men and women of all ages. There were young students who were pursuing a fashion degree. Then there were other women, like myself, who either wanted to explore sewing as a hobby or just get out of the house and away from their families as an escape. Some women clicked instantly and would always sit together as if they have found their new best friend while others would make small talk over the sewing tables as they seam ripped an incorrect stitch and had to sew it again. If we had questions we would ask each other first rather than waiting for the instructor to make her way to every individual student. By the end of the 10 weeks I had completed a few sewing projects from various patterns. I was happy to finish my projects but I wanted to create something unique of my own.
It wasn’t until I took flat pattern drafting that I designed my first original pieces! I was so proud of them that I made tags that said “BhavyJ Designs” and sewed it into the inside of the garment to act as my logo label. I submitted the designs to the annual student fashion show. This was the first time that I would be exhibiting my work to an audience. What excited me the most was to see my designs on a an actual human being rather than just a dress form.. I could see how the garment would fit on a woman’s body but also see how the garment moved. I wasn’t able to attend the show that day, but when I received the pictures there was an overwhelmingly sense of joy that came over me. A year later, I submitted another garment for the yearly student fashion show, and this time I was able to witness the model walking down the runway in my design. My friend and I cheered as the student modeled, but then I noticed something… She was wearing the skirt in the wrong direction! How could this be? My friend assured me that it was fine, and it looked great, but that didn’t matter. No one else knew, but I knew, and that was a feeling I didn’t like. For the first time, I understood how an artist or designer felt if their personal work was not showcased in the way they had envisioned it. That to me was failing as a designer. I had vowed to myself that I would never allow that to happen again.