How to be a Self-Taught Fashion Designer

How to Be a Self-Taught Fashion Designer

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Being a fashion designer is as much about creativity as it is about skill. Some superior trained fashion designers frown upon people who they say call themselves fashion designers but haven’t studied the craft. You have some fashion designers whom have graduated from top fashion schools working for people who in all rights are also fashion designers that never went to school. Does your schooling dictate how successful you will be in fashion? No it does not.

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As with anything you can look at a person like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs whom neither of which finished college. At the same time you can see many people who have the best degrees but are not as nearly successful. At the end of the day it all depends on creative vision, passion, drive and being relentless. The same is true of fashion designers. I do not make lightly of the fact that everyone should study their craft. While you may not learn how to sew, you should learn the basics and terminology.

If you can go to fashion school there is nothing wrong with that. It is encouraged as you will learn a lot if you pick the right school and program. The networking you gain from fashion school is also a plus that can help you once you graduate. But if you cannot go to fashion school – it is not the end of the world. You can still pursue your dream of being a fashion designer and owning your own clothing line. StartMyLine.com is here to help! Here are the 10 most important things to not only becoming a self-taught fashion designer but a good one.. 

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Here are 10 Steps to Becoming a Self-Taught Fashion Designer

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1 Sketching

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Sketching is probably one of the most important skill sets of a fashion designer. The purpose of sketching is to visually communicate the design – getting it from your head or from someone else’s vision and creating a visual interpretation of the design that can be easily understood. I use to the word easily because some designers you can’t fully understand their hand sketches and still have to wonder what the design will look like if made.

Clothing Manufacturers and Apparel Sampling Services prefer digital fashion sketches as they are easier to understand. It also helps them create a design more accurately if they can visually see what is going on. So while some fashion designers create beautiful artistic sketches they they fully understand if they are going to sew their own clothing may work for them but it may not work when they have to hire someone else to make the designs..

The most important aspect of sketching is being able to accurately and professional communicate your design idea so that others can understand it. That is the #1 rule. The best way to accomplish that is to use a fashion design software. The best part is that with some fashion design software like Digital Fashion Pro (which also is a basic fashion design course by the way) you do not even have to know how to hand draw to make professional fashion sketches. So with this being a fact – you can be a fashion designer in terms of designing the sketches without knowing or learning how to draw. So if you were not born with the natural ability to draw well don’t fret.

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While there may be celebrity fashion designers that do not create their own sketches – we feel that to be a true fashion designer – creating your own clothing sketches is one aspect that all fashion designers should know how to do even if you later allocate the duty to your team. You could still opt to take a local fashion design class if you can find a good one. It will be much cheaper than going to a formal school but still could be very helpful. Learning the art of sketching or digital sketching is a must. I know I keep pushing our product Digital Fashion Pro but honestly, hands down, it is one of the best investments you can make in learning how to create professional digital fashion sketches because of all of the features you get with it. Sorry but not sorry for the plug.

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The US Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics States: “Fashion designers use technology to design. They must be able to use computer-aided design (CAD) programs and be familiar with graphics editing software,” as one of the things necessary to be a fashion designer today. Whether you want to design your own line or freelance for others – the skill of digital sketching using CAD (Computer-Aided Design) is critical.

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How to design your own clothing

2 Measurements

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Measurements is another key aspect of being a fashion designer. You should be comfortable with trying on garments and using a ruler to measure the garments to take notes. You should also be comfortable with knowing how to measure garments and what each part of a garment is called. You also want to be familiar with how to translate your measurements to a spec sheet. You also want to be familiar with how grading works. While you can hire others to do these services – it is still recommended that you at least understand them. Here are a few resources that can help you with every aspect of fashion designing.

3 Sewing

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Sewing is an important part to being a fashion designer to many however it is not a deal breaker if you do not know how or learn to sew. You can get by without knowing how to sew. In fact when things get busy for you with your own label you might not even have time to sew your own goods or samples. It is perfectly okay to outsource sewing to a seamstress, sampling service, your team or manufacturer. However, if you want to learn how to sew – we encourage you to do so. It only adds to your overall fashion designer skills. You can often find local sewing classes or postings of such online or at local fabric shops. Knowing as much as you can never hurt anyone. Even if you do not know how to sew you should still take the time to learn the terminology and the basics of construction. Study other garments. Deconstruct garments to see how they are put together etc. Here is an article on the 4 steps to getting your clothing made.

4 Fabrics

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Study fabrics. Study the characteristics of different types of fabric. What are the best fabrics to use in particular styles. Study what fabrics are eco-friendly if that is important to you. Learn about care details. Studying fabric is important. Be sure to read care labels from other brands and fabric contents. Being familiar with fabric is an important part of being a fashion designer. You can also get help in this area + follow recommendations from apparel manufacturers and sampling services. Another handy tool that mostly all designers have is a Pantone Color Book. It helps designers communicate color to manufacturers and fabric mills. It is also great to visit local fabric shops as they provide the opportunity for you to study fabrics as well as network. It is used internationally. Here are some other resources that can help in this area.

5 Trends & Fashion History

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There will be some that may judge you if you can’t tell them the history of Gabrielle Chanel or Christian Dior. Yes, as with anything people who know more than you do will always judge you or discredit your status. Your lack of fashion history should not stop you if you want to be a fashion designer. However, it would behoove to study some of your fashion icons. Studying is highly recommended. You may learn things that can help you on your journey. You should also make it a point to study trends even if you want to be anti-trend.

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6 The Business of Being a Fashion Designer / Having Your Own Line

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Many fashion designers graduate from fashion school without having a solid background on what it takes to start a boutique fashion label in the real world. So for them and even for completely new beginners we recommend our detailed how to start a clothing line course. It is hands down one of the best pieces on what it takes to start a clothing line from scratch on a budget. It covers much of what you will need to know to increase your chances of being successful. It will also teach you about manufacturing, working with factories and getting your line in stores. Covers pricing your styles and more. Learning the fashion business and how it works is imperative to your success.

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7 Tags, Labels, Regulation

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8 Attention to Detail

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To be a fashion designer or a great fashion designer – you have to have a keen attention to detail. You have to really care about the each little detail of a garments design. You cannot leave something for someone else to figure out unless you specifically put them in charge of the detail. Otherwise it is up to you to know about all aspects of the garments you are designing. No detail is too small. You are responsible for picking the trims, the thread, thread color, zipper style, button style, packaging, measurements, logo placement, artwork placement etc. A fashion designer must be hands on in each phase of garment production. The functions may be divided up into various departments at small and large firms but if you are by yourself at the moment – it is all up to you..

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9 Creativity?

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We list Creativity as one of the steps to be a Fashion Designer but can creativity really be measured? Not really. Some of the most creative designs may not be for general public consumption. You can do the most creative design ever but is it commercial? Surely, there is nothing wrong with doing a creative design that isn’t commercial. The flip side is you can a designer that just copies exactly what he or she sees other companies doing. Does that make the person less of a fashion designer even if they still have to be in charge of all of the other aspects of bringing that design to market? As you can see judging creativity is a blurry line. But we will say that – you must at least consider yourself to be creative and have viable fashion ideas.

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10 Multitasking & Organizational Skills

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To be a great fashion designer you have to be able to multitask. You will have to be able to wear many hats. Things that are often delegated will all be in your hands. You must be a master of all the task. You must also be able to keep everything very organized. For example – if you create a new style or item. Once you give it a style name – it should have its own folder on your device. Everything pertaining to that style should be in that folder. Then you will have a larger folder that have all the styles for a certain season and so on. You must have your contacts organized with what company you are contracting to do what service. The better your organization skills are the less chance you will make a mistake or forget something.

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All in all – these are the 10 most important general things to learn about how to become a fashion designer. To be fully self-taught you will want to work on all 10 points. It is not hard to do. Just make up your mind that you are ready to pursue your vision of being a fashion designer. Whether you choose formal schooling or the self-taught route you can achieve if you believe. If you are the person saying. “I do not need to know anything, I just know what I want, I will just tell someone my ideas and let them handle everything,” then being a fashion designer isn’t for you unless you are rich.

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What Is a Fashion Designer?

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According to Sonuka.com – “A fashion designer is someone who loves to study fashion trends, sketch designs, select materials, and have a part in all the production aspects of their designs.” Using our 10 steps to becoming a designer will get you on the right track. Once you engage in these steps and you are actively practicing the art of fashion designer – you will be a designer. At that point it is up to the quality of your work to the gain the respect of others.

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By fashonana

Fashonana is a fashion blog for the fashionable woman of this era.

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