Photo courtesy of Sydney Willich
The whirring of a sewing machine as it churns out fabrics of vibrant colors is a familiar comfort for sophomore Sydney Willich. Well-accustomed to the world of art, fashion design is the perfect combination of her interests and artistic abilities.
At WCHS, Fashion Design is an art elective where students in Fashion Illustration, Fashion Production and Advanced Fashion collaborate to sketch and create unique items and learn more about the fashion industry.
“When I was looking for classes, Fashion sounded like a fun elective that really interested me. I have always enjoyed art and sewing, so it was a good fit,” Willich said. “Coming up with unique ideas and seeing an outfit come together is very satisfying.”
Although she has only taken fashion for two years, Willich has been sewing and designing clothes since she was a child. She loves to sew for her friends and family, creating scarves, hats and even masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I first started sewing in third grade because I had just gotten a sewing machine for Christmas,” Willich said. “I remember loving how it felt to be able to finally make my own clothing, so I just kept doing it.”
Willich particularly enjoys fashion because it allows her to express herself through designs. The class is not limited to just sewing — jewelry and illustrations are also common projects assigned in Fashion Design.
“Art is an outlet for creativity in my life. Fashion class specifically allows me to express my ideas, beliefs and style through a medium that people see every day,” Willich said.
Willich started out in Fashion Illustration during her freshman year and was able to take Adv. Fashion Production sophomore year due to her prior skills in sewing.
“The classes kind of overlap, and I already knew how to sew, so I just took Advanced,” Willich said.
According to Willich, making mistakes is part of the fashion process, especially for beginners. She recommends testing on scrap fabric before starting on the real thing.
“I remember for one of my projects, a shirt, I had to make my own pattern and involved making sleeves, which I found quite difficult,” Willich said. “I first made it on muslin, which was a good decision because I could fix the sizing and any other minor adjustments before making it on the real fabric.”
As co-president of the Fashion Club at WCHS, Willich has posted fun challenges, led discussions about fashion basics and has hosted guest speakers to talk about their careers.
“We do sewing projects and other art projects such as fashion figures and illustrating outfits,” WIllich said. “It allows people not taking the class to do similar things or improve their skills.”
One project included creating a Pinterest board of clothes and other fashion elements each club member liked, something Willich herself does while making her own items.
“Sometimes I will see things on Pinterest and try to make something similar or it will inspire me to try something new,” Willich said. “My favorite part of Pinterest is that there are so many different designs and possibilities.”
Other classmates admire Willich and her creations. Sophomore Sammy Seminara, another Fashion student and one of Willich’s oldest friends, enjoys collaborating with Willich and comparing ideas. Over the years, she has seen Willich improve and work on more complex designs.
“Sydney is a very kind, dedicated and talented person, inside and outside the class,” Seminara said. “She is always open to trying new things and learning more about fashion and other people.”
Being patient and having an open mind is a big part of sewing, since projects can take weeks or months, depending on what it is, and they may not always turn out as expected.
“Some things are harder to make than others, so it takes a lot of practice and patience to learn,” Willich said. “Keep practicing and do not give up. The process is very rewarding.”