ALA Choice Review March 2018

"No Admissions. No Travel. No scheduled classes. Learn what you want, when and where you want!" Thus proclaims this site's ambition to be a self-driven student resource, offering a database of video lessons in draping, pattern making, sewing, fashion art and drawing, CAD, fashion business and product development, accessories, knits, and childrens' wear. Unlike the amateur videos of variable quality one finds on YouTube, lessons here are scripted and hosted by professional designers. The home page is straightforward and simply designed. It presents a standard simple search box, plus links to sections labeled Lessons, Subscriptions, About, Resources, Blog, and Contact. Icons for Facebook, Twitter, etc. offer alternative ways to sign in. Monthly subscriptions for individuals and groups are offered. Content is comprehensive, and all videos include tables of contents and transcripts. One's laptop needs to be within reach for easy pausing and replaying during lessons.

Under the Pattern Making section, lessons are divided by mastery level. Examples, highlighting three levels, include videos for beginners (e.g., "Basic Pant Sloper," run time 41:48); intermediate ("High-Waisted Skirt, 29:04); and advanced ("Drafting a Women's Jacket, run time 24:24). The videos teach viewers how to draft patterns using body measurements. Further lessons show how to draft sleeves, bodices, collars, necklines, and darts. Subscribers can download basic "sloper" or pattern files to get started, and videos include supply lists. Draping lessons are also extensive and of variable length, including Introduction to Dress Forms (run time 12:30), Drop Shoulder Blouse (41:53), and Bias Cowl Blouse (1:10:03). The Fashion Drawing section offers yet more: Drawing Female Hands, Drawing & Illustrating Male Frontal Pose, and Twin Figures—Mood Drawing. One can find lectures covering topics like Tanning Leather, Textile Dyeing, and Plus-Size Models, along with interviews with notable fashion experts such as Kara Laricks and Valerie Steele. The site's Fashion Business section offers nearly 20 videos dealing with the history of licensing, start-ups, collection costing, or lessons on understanding profit and loss.

Each section recommends a watching sequence, moving from fundamentals through intermediate to advanced practices, and comes with this note: "You'll learn the most from these lessons by doing exactly what the teachers are doing, using your own materials." Years ago, when learning how to draft patterns, this reviewer discovered that in fashion designing, nothing beats practice. One has to ask if students can use this service instead of enrolling in college. The simple answer—yes. However, one must be self-directed, motivated, and have the toughness to try (and fail) many times before mastering skills. According to the site's FAQ, a team of fashion designers is available to answer both lesson-related and general questions about fashion careers. All designers need to be resourceful and outgoing, using social networks like Etsy or Pinterest to get feedback. Even if students decide later to enroll in fashion school, what they learn via the University of Fashion will jump-start their career.
--C. Donaldson, North Seattle College

Summing Up: Highly recommended. High school through undergraduate students; general readers.

American Library Association's Choice (March 2018 Issue)

Reprinted with permission from CHOICE http://www.choicereviews.org, copyright by the American Library Association.