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Textile Design

The Breakdown

Perhaps you’ve been admiring the fabric your mom picked out for the new curtains hanging in your den. Or maybe you’ve been eyeing the pattern on the dress your friend just purchased. Or perhaps you delayed opening a birthday present because you were really taken with the wrapping paper. Whatever the material, you’re appreciating the work of textile designers. And if you have an artistic bent, textile design might be a good major for you!

As a textile design student, you will learn how to embellish, enhance and decorate natural and synthetic fabrics. Combining courses in theory with hands-on practice, you’ll study how to take even a kernel of a concept and ultimately transform it into a final product. Most programs will offer the opportunity to work with a variety of materials including paints, dyes, yarn, fibers and silk screens. Moreover, you will also become well versed in computer aided design systems. The skills you acquire will allow you to design everything from apparel to home furnishings.

Similar to those in fashion, as a textile designer you will need a good sense of color and composition. And you’ll want to add eye for detail to the mix. Certainly, just as vital as your artistic talents will be your ability to analyze and forecast trends. After all, you don’t want to create products that will seem dated. Unless, of course, you’re all about being retro.

Nuts and Bolts

If you decide to purse textile design, you will get to practice and perfect your art with classes such as: Experimental Screen Printing, Textile Color Fundamentals, Printed Fabrics, Nature Studies, Wallcovering Design, Introduction to Decorative Fabrics, Color Analysis, Painting on Fabric, Computer-Aided Print Design, Lace and Embroidery Design, Color Trends in the Industry Today, Woven Design and Design for Knitted Fabrics.

Decisions, Decisions

Textile design students gravitate towards subjects that call for creativity and a strong aesthetic sensibility. Other majors that might also be of interest include fashion design, interior design, architecture, art history, studio art, photography, digital media, art education, graphic design, illustration, accessories design, fashion merchandising, advertising and packaging design.

What's Next

To the layperson, textile design might seem as if it’s a limited, niche market. However, those in the industry know that textile designers are in demand for all sorts of products. Indeed, graduates of textile programs can find jobs designing for numerous commercial goods – from clothing and upholstery to linens, rugs and even wallpaper and various types of packaging. Though most students aspire to head their own design teams, recent grads often start out helping execute the designs of their superiors. They might assist in fabric selection and create mock-ups of sample designs. As they progress in their career, they will likely begin consulting with clients, retail buyers, technical specialists and marketing professionals. Finally, possible job titles might include apparel stylist, fabric development specialist, CAD designer, colorist, product developer and studio director.


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Don Munce