The COVID-19 quarantine presents tremendous challenges to those of us who are students in the Textiles and Fashion Design Program. Without access to our studios, we no longer have the tools, equipment, and space we need to create our projects. Some are lucky enough to have a sewing machine, but few have a dress form, which is an essential tool for clothing design. 

Professors in TFD worked with us to locate old, borrowed, or rented equipment, with priority to those of us who are seniors and are trying to finish their thesis projects.  However, even with the proper equipment, we have to figure out how to adapt our homes and apartments to make a space large enough to work.

Some students don’t have enough space at home to work or don’t have access to equipment that would allow us to keep making. For those students, the professors adapted the assignments to put a stronger emphasis on hand drawing or computer-aided projects of the semester. 

The faculty and students worked together to make the best of the tools we did have. We were all patient with each other as we learned together how to use Skype, phone calls, and BlackBoard Collaborate for lectures, discussions, demonstrations, screen shares, and group projects. The distance learning also pushes all of us to use the cameras on our phones to communicate visual details, and to document our process and final works. 

One of the most challenging aspects of the change to online learning is the lack of ability to talk about our work in person or to our professors.  It is challenging to discuss the technical details of a garment by video chat.  Without face to face interaction,  it is difficult to make the personal interaction that comes with a studio class.  

Aside from the difficulties, there are positive aspects of remote learning.  Working from home makes our schedules more flexible and gives us long, uninterrupted periods to work. Working alone is an unexpected opportunity to develop our problem-solving skills.

Yuqi Jiang, a Senior in the TFD Program said,

“At first, I was confused and anxious about remote learning and how the lack of access to studios would affect my work.  But some positive things came from it. I wound up buying a sewing machine and a dress form for myself. So now I can make what I want at home at any time. The situation has also helped me become more familiar with communicating digitally with peers and instructors.  All of which will be helpful in my career ahead.”