how to start a clothing line and textile design
black and white surfer riding a cutback


textile design and how to start a clothing line

It’s fair to say I’ve tried many things in my life, but over my forty years certain ‘things’ keep rearing their heads and go full circle no matter how far i travel away from them. textile design and construction has never been far away.

Art was my direction at school, textiles in particular, I don’t know what it was about sewing. Maybe the intense concentration required with a tangible piece at the end demonstrating the work and thought considered in engineering say a bag or a hat.

the marriage of photography and textile design

So we are back once again after a several cycles from designing bags and hats in my late teens, to upholstery in my mid thirties to clothes in my early forties. Embodying my photography which has also had a 10 year cycle. with the combination of the two. Photography and textile design and a desire to create silk garments marrying the two.

The preparation

researching – what do you want to make? where do I start? what equipment do I need? how much will it cost? how long will it take? what fabric do i want to use?

I began thinking about scarves, many artists use silk scarves as a wearable outlet for their artwork. I rolled with this for a little while, but didn’t feel completely satisfied inside. I had purchased a kaftan from a charity shop in Cornwall last summer and had worn it to death and ultimately destroyed it. what I loved about it was you could lounge around the house and walk out the door and be turned out enough to go to lunch with little effort. There was a freedom in that.

I also considered what my imagery would look best on and show it off the most. A scarf worn around the neck would not necessarily do it justice. But a kaftan would allow the majority of the image to be shown off. so this is the route i have taken for my first garment.

the equipment

if you’r asking yourself how do i start a clothing line with no equipment then here is the answer. there are a few useful items that will make your life a whole lot easier when embarking on this journey of creation. this list is not exhaustive but its a decent start and doesn’t include the material and printing costs which I will need when it comes to constructing my first sample. Ultimately it doesn’t matter if you don’t have all the equipment or many to pay for it. If you are committed to making it happen you will do it come hell or high water. Maybe just need a little patience as I do.

  1. Sewing machine – £50 – £250
  2. mannequin – £40-60
  3. cutting board – £30-100
  4. rotary cutter/scissors – £10
  5. pins/needles – £10-20
  6. pattern cutting paper – £10-20
  7. calico – £3 per meter (you could use an old bed sheet)
  8. ruler -£5
  9. tape measure – £5
  10. lessons £90 (you might not need them)

the process

The process is time consuming. I am cursed with perfectionism which must be carefully monitored, I have great challenge in making decisions which can cause additional time delays. This is assisted by my support network – often asking them to chose between a picture or two getting lost in what other people may prefer. The truth is everyone will prefer something different. The choice ultimately comes down to which image could logically work on a particular garment. See the video below for further information on how to start a clothing line.