Hemline for Hearts Seeks to Raise Awareness of Women’s Heart Health

dress sketches

By Julie Watterson

Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve. Six designers from NC State’s College of Textiles will take that expression literally on Jan. 28 when they create apparel designs made entirely out of red paper hearts to raise awareness of the issues surrounding women and heart disease.

Hemline for Hearts is a live competition and collaboration between the college and the local chapter of the American Heart Association. The event will take place at Crabtree Valley Mall in front of Macy’s first floor entrance. From noon to 4 p.m., designers will build their pieces in a “Project Runway” style competition that kicks off American Heart Month in February. A panel of local celebrity judges will review the pieces from 4 to 4:30 p.m. and the top three winners will be announced between 4:30 and 5 p.m.

During the summer of 2016, Dr. Delisia Matthews, assistant professor in the department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management, approached the American Heart Association in Raleigh with the idea and vision for Hemline for Hearts. It was a project she had spearheaded previously at Louisiana State University (LSU). “The event was successful over the three years that we executed it during my time at LSU. I saw how it positively impacted the students, the community and the cause in a special way. So, I wanted to make the same impact here in North Carolina,” said Matthews.

Representatives from the American Heart Association were eager to collaborate and excited to find a unique way to reach their audience, said Sloan Garner, regional vice president of the American Heart Association, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate.

“It was perfect timing for the Triangle American Heart Association.  We were looking for a new, fun way to share the message that heart disease is the leading killer of women and that it can strike anyone at any time,” she said. “The icon for the Go Red For Women movement is the little red dress. Working with the College of Textiles students is a great way to combine cutting edge fashion design and the message that heart disease is 80 percent preventable.”

The project got going in earnest at the start of the fall semester with students from two courses taking part: Textile Brand Communications and Promotions, taught by Matthews, and Fashion Product Design, taught by Dr. Minyoung Suh, assistant professor. Matthews’ students assisted with developing print advertisements, a social media plan and event marketing and advertising. Suh’s 14 students worked on dress design sketches. Representatives from the AHA assessed the sketches and six designs were selected for the live event on Jan. 28.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to show off students’ work outside of campus. I also expect them to learn how they can serve the community with their own talent and interest,” said Suh, who also required the students to make fabric versions of their AHA designs as part of the class grade.

Student’s Hemline for Hearts designs will feature inspirational elements including hemlines that mimic electrocardiogram tracings and blooming flowers that represent survivors.

“The challenge for the designers will include understanding how the paper behaves differently from fabrics,” said Suh. “For example, the paper does not conform to the contour as smoothly as a fabric does. Add to that the challenge of finishing the project under the time pressure.”

In addition to the human heart, students drew inspiration from the Go Red for Women campaign mission to empower women to take charge of their heart health. To help students in both courses appreciate the fact that heart disease can affect anyone, Garner arranged for students to hear from Jessica Fournier early in the semester.  Fournier is a young heart transplant recipient who shared her story of survival.

Garner said she hopes this project will bring increased awareness to the issue of women and heart disease.

“If just one woman hears our message through the Hemline for Heart project and is moved to take action for her heart health it will be one more life saved,” she said. “Heart disease and stroke prevention must start earlier. If you begin to foster healthy lifestyle habits such as not smoking, eating a nutritious diet, and being physically active as a young person, you’ll be more likely to carry those habits with you for a lifetime.”

The AHA will be accepting donations at the event in honor of loved ones and friends affected by cardiovascular disease.  Funds raised will go specifically to female-focused heart disease research.


The competing student designers are

  • Julia Sacani
  • Bailey Murad
  • Lyndsey Jones
  • Peyton Hartis
  • Sara Fallin
  • Zihan Dou

The students from the Textile Brand Communications and Promotions course involved in the event are:

  • Tabitha Beidleman
  • Ashton Hudson
  • Kelsey Logan
  • Young Kyoung Jo

For more information about Go Red For Women and heart disease prevention visit GoRedForWomen.org or contact your local American Heart Association at 919-463-8300.

One response on “Hemline for Hearts Seeks to Raise Awareness of Women’s Heart Health

  1. Shirlene Baskerville says:

    What an excellent idea Dr. Matthews. I look forward to enjoying and learning a lot during
    the afternoon of January 28th with you, your colleague and the student designers. You
    have my best wishes for a successful event. I will share this information with my friends.

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