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Student Success

Textile Design Students Develop Homeware Collections, Collaborate With Alumni

Students working with yarn in FTD 373

By Mary Giuffrida

Behind every spool of yarn is a textile designer who chose the color, luster, twist, texture and structure variation to create a unique material. They understand how each individual element of the yarn makes it suitable for different purposes. 

This is what students in the textile design concentration learn in FTD 373: Yarn Design the spring semester of their sophomore year.

“It’s really the fundamental fibers and what do we do with them,” says Assistant Professor Janie Woodbridge, who teaches the course. “We’re starting very basic, and we’re digging deeper technically as the students progress forward.”

Building Skill Sets

By the end of the course students are able to identify the appropriate uses of different yarns. They are able to differentiate between materials used for apparel versus home furnishing by analyzing the contents of the textile.

“We talk a lot about application,” Woodbridge explains. “So if I introduce braiding, then I will show like, here’s a nautical rope that’s made out of synthetic material that lasts for a long time and floats. There’s always a connection to reality, to where this could be applied to.”

There’s always a connection to reality, to where this could be applied to.” – Assistant Professor Janie Woodbridge

Along with this they are building a library of skills including spinning, dyeing, braiding, weaving, knitting and more.

“Rug hooking or weaving I would say would be my favorites,” student Kenli Esau says. “I really loved weaving and I’m really excited to work on the bigger looms in the studio next door next year.”

While learning the various techniques, the students are introduced to the many labs and resources available to them at the Wilson College of Textiles. They spend time getting to know the machines and equipment they will be using when they enter the industry. 

Students also keep a journal or sketchbook chronicling each of the techniques they’ve learned. By the end of the semester they have either a digital or physical log of everything they’ve completed and how it can be applied in the real world.

Final Project

The culmination of the course is a joint final project with FTD 374: Surface Design and Texture, which the students have been taking along with 373. Students work in teams to create a homeware collection showcasing the skills they’ve learned. They are paired one to one with Wilson College alumni who act as industry mentors and help guide them through the project.

The students first meet with their mentors to do an initial concept presentation, where they can receive feedback on their work and advice on the best ways to move forward. Then as the students build on their collections, the mentors advise them, helping to create a polished final product.

Esau and Her Groupmates’ Final Collection

“They were very helpful in fine tuning the little details,” Esau says. “We had a lot of questions about ‘Should we do this?’ or ‘Should we go this way?’ and they’re really helpful about that because obviously they’re in the industry and they know what would work best.”

The project pushes students to combine the techniques they’ve learned in both classes and build a design literacy that can be applied across disciplines.

Growing a Community

This course is the first time the textile design students are taking a class with just their cohort. It is a chance for them to specialize and hone in on their textile design track, building a robust skillset they will carry with them throughout their degree and into their careers.

It is also an opportunity for them to connect with their peers; the small size of the cohort allows them to build deeper connections and support each other through their classes.

“It was really nice,” Esau says. “There’s only nine of us which was honestly really great because I feel like I know everyone really well individually.”