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In-Depth Knit Education Prepares Students for Apparel, Home Goods Industries

knit fabric samples

By Sarah Stone

What do a pair of socks, a lampshade, a sweater and an athleisure set have in common? They’re all products made by textile design students for their Knit Level 2 course (FTD 476). 

Each fall, senior textile design students take FTD 476 as a final preparation in knitwear before participating in their capstone Senior Emerging Designer Showcase. For their final project, students research, design and develop an apparel or home product using any knit technique and structure they choose. 

fabric draped over chair

Associate Professor Lisa Chapman, who teaches the course, says this required research is what sets the college’s textile design degree apart as an industrial design program. 

“Through FTD 476, students are learning how to understand the niche market. Whether they choose a home or apparel category, they have to complete a fairly in-depth analysis of that market,” Chapman says. “That means understanding the price points, the types of fibers and yarns that are most appropriate, and the retail outlet for their product. Who would buy this product and why? They learn to keep that voice of the consumer front and center.”

Just as important to applied design is manufacturability. In this course, Chapman says students have to learn to adapt if their initial design idea wouldn’t be feasible to produce to scale using available technology and materials. In order to do that, they have to have a deep understanding of the material and how different fibers or yarn properties could impact their intended end product. 

“Students work a lot with simulation and computer-aided design tools to let them assess the knit along the way,” Chapman explains. “So they’re looking at actual needle action, and they’re understanding, for example, ‘If I did one design versus another, would I save time on the knitting machine and would it be more efficient to knit?’”

sample garment from student

The open-ended, critique-heavy nature of the course’s final project is specifically geared towards preparing textile design seniors for the Emerging Designer Showcase. In this capstone program, designers spend six credit hours developing their own cohesive, showroom-ready collection of textile products. Students were required to create a number of samples for each potential design. Chapman says familiarizing them with this process will help these students succeed at creating more innovative products for their showcase. 

“These students will leave the Wilson College of Textiles with probably the most in-depth knit design education available in the United States.”

Learn more about a few of the senior’s final projects

Brianne Haas – Women’s Apparel

closeup of knit matching athleisure set

Brianne Haas designed a knit matching athleisure set targeted towards women in the older Gen Z or younger Millennial generations. 


Tia Rogers – Women’s Apparel and Gifts

close up of matching blanket and sock set

Tia Rogers created a matching blanket and sock set to be sold together. The “Getaway Bundle” would be marketed towards women between the ages of 30 and 45 and sold in higher end stores like Anthropologie. 

Rogers says sampling played a crucial role in her design process. 

“The samples will actually show the texture,” she says. “Samples also allow me to see how whatever yarn I pick looks after washing and whether or not it will shrink.”


Lindsay Sitton – Men’s Apparel

men's apparel sketch

Lindsay Sitton created a men’s sweater with kitschy golf patterns and motifs. It’s intended for men of all ages to be sported on the course or off. She chose to knit the sweaters from 100% cotton so that they would be breathable, durable and resistant to pilling.

“I feel like it’s super easy to make clothes for a consumer demographic that I can relate to,” she says. “I wanted to add something different to my portfolio that could show that I can develop more than just what I like to wear.”