So you want to be a Designer . . .

Dress pattern I designed and knit for a local designer and manufacturer.

Dress pattern I created for a local designer; spring/summer 2019.

Knowing you want to be a designer feels like an itch that needs to be scratched. Like most creatives, designers have a curiosity about the world around them, and how they can solve problems. Whether you are interested in becoming a fashion clothing designer, knitting or crocheting designer, there are some straightforward steps to help you begin the process of designing.

Learning is the first step in the design process. We learn about skills by researching enough, identifying the most important components, and the tools required for practice. There are many great fashion colleges and universities, that provide a solid design education, but you don’t need years of education at these institutions to become a designer. You can learn about your field of interest by taking courses here and there, consulting experts, and studying how professional designers work. Becoming a designer takes years of practice, and most importantly, every designer develops a unique approach overtime from the act of doing and working through challenges.

Key Steps to Becoming a Designer

Learn how to draw – I love fashion illustrations, but I have very weak drawing skills. That being said, in the early stages of the design process, I make a crude sketch of the design’s shape and details. You don’t have to be an artist to get your ideas on paper. There are many classes, books, and tools to help you translate design concepts into realistic representations of garments, such as sketching garment ideas over a croquis (human figure). Mood boards are also a common way designers present ideas through colourways, techniques and garment inspiration. Regardless of your drawing ability, you have to find a way of translating an idea, and generate a mood or concept.

Learn about sewing – Even if you’re not going to sew your own creations as a clothing designer, you still need to know about sewing. Understanding the possibilities of your medium is an important part of coming up with new ideas. Studying pattern-making, how garments are assembled and broken down into their component parts is a skill that crosses over into other areas like knitting garments. Knitting designers also need to be able to write clear, concise pattern instructions so that other knitters can successfully complete their designs. Learning basic hand-sewing skills is helpful in successfully completing projects.

Learn about design theory – The principles of design theory, such as colour theory applies to all sorts of disciplines. Don’t limit yourself to studying your area of interest exclusively. Designers are creative individuals, and the best are eclectic generalists, having studied the history of art, architecture, fashion, and photography. This knowledge greatly contributes to generating ideas and to the quality of your work.

Learn about fashion – Designers in the world of fashion are constantly thinking ahead, often working a  year in advance. This same approach is used in designing knit or crochet collections. Study the fashion industry, and how collections are designed and presented. Watch videos, conduct research or schedule visits with designers in your field of interest.

Learn about technology and resources – There are so many tools available to designers. I encourage beginners to learn the basics before incorporating advanced technology; this helps you understand the process. If you plan to make a living as a clothing designer, knowing your way around computer design software, drawing tablets and such is probably a must. For knitting and crocheting, these tools can be time savers, but aren’t absolutely essential to becoming a designer.

Build a portfolio – If you want to sell your work or patterns, you need to build a body of work. You can’t have a body of work without practice, practice, and more practice – the act of doing. Document your work in photographs, and using models is preferable. You want to showcase your style and voice. Keep accurate records of all materials, pattern pieces and instructions for making all designs.

Whether or not you want designing as a career, the above practical steps are essential to help you begin the process of becoming a designer. Every designer has a unique approach, developed overtime through practicing skills, taking on challenges, being curious about the world around them, and to never stop learning.