Fashion Design Student Profile

By Shailen Lakhani - Last update


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Name: Belinda Sullivan
Course Provider: Mallow College of Design and Tailoring, Co. Cork.
Course: City & Guilds Diploma in Fashion Design

From the time I left school and finished my secretarial course, I spent the next 11 years in various jobs, all of which I got little satisfaction from. They were just a way of making a living. To break the mundane I always did a 10 week night course in the autumn. Looking back now I realise they were all creative classes knitting, pottery, art, curtain making, etc. With my first wages I bought myself a sewing machine and many a pattern and fabrics. However I never seemed to properly finish a garment I d get bored of it and it always seemed to look homemade.

After getting married and two little boys later, there was definitely a void in my life with no job to go to. At a toddler group meeting I got chatting to another mum who mentioned she had made another mum s wedding dress. My ears pricked up straight away and she was bombarded with questions. It turned out she trained at Mallow College years before. I couldn t believe it. It was only 20 minutes drive away from me and I never knew about it! Of course I got myself booked in asap. I couldn t wait to start.

The first year was a doddle. We learnt all about pattern making. I was fascinated to think that all I had to do was take a few measurements and I could literally design what I wanted. We also had to make a skirt, top, pants and coat for 1st year. I learnt so much from making those totally different from the instructions included in a pattern. I felt like a pro already! At the end of the year we were invited to take a look at the work of the final year students. I went home feeling both excited and worried. The workmanship of the 3rd years was second to none. I remember thinking I ll never be able to do that.

Second year was a lot tougher. We had to learn and make sewing samples and build up a collection. I had never realised there were so many different stitches, seams, pockets and buttonholes. We also started learning art and every week there was a new technique and apply it to our source of inspiration.

Third year was definitely the best because it was all about using all the techniques and art I learned and putting it all together I could get a bit of silk and do some painting on it or maybe some batik, maybe do a bit of machine embroidery on top of it, add a few hand stitches and finally embellish with some beads and oh my God a beautiful piece of wearable art that you could pay a fortune for in BT s – I had definitely come home! But there were a lot of sleepless nights and burning the midnight oil trying to finish the final collection. But it was all worth it in the end. I got the biggest shock of my life when I was announced as Designer of the year 2008!

Since then I haven t looked back. The publicity I got was fantastic and the satisfaction I m getting doing commission work is great. I now work from home and around my family with whatever hours suit me.

I would strongly encourage anyone who would love to do something else to forget the excuses and fear that you re too old or never be good enough and just go for it. You never know you might surprise yourself. . .

 


Shailen Lakhani

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