Do you enjoy working with fabric and other textiles? Would you like to design upholstery materials or wallpaper or help create the next trend in apparel? Perhaps a career in the textile and weaving arts would pique your interest. Read on to explore more about this field of study.
Textile and weaving arts are craft arts that encompass many disciplines, including knitting, embroidery, felting, wallpaper design, rug design, original art, spinning and loom weaving. Textile designers and weaving artists create handcrafted and manufactured items, such as rugs, blankets, apparel, accessories and more.
Working in the textile and weaving arts, you may do freelance work as a textile designer, dressmaker or craft artist. Alternatively, you may work for a manufacturer or design firm creating diverse products, such as furniture upholstery, apparel, accessories or wallpaper. You may be an embroiderer, fine artist, costume designer, knitware designer or rug designer. A degree is not always a requirement; however, to work in fashion, employers typically require at least an associate's degree.
A sampling of salaries from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that as of May 2010, craft artists had a median annual wage of $26,930, while fashion designers earned $64,530 (www.bls.gov). Upholsterers earned $29,960, and tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers had a median annual wage of $26,560.
Due to offshore assembly and the increase in imports, employment in the textile, apparel and furnishing occupations was predicted by the BLS to decline by 15% in the 2008-2018 decade. However, skilled apparel workers, such as tailors, dressmakers and those who sew custom designs were predicted to have little or no change in employment during this time period. Upholsterers, on the other hand, were predicted to see an increase of seven percent in employment. Craft artists had a projected employment growth of 12% in the 2008-2018 decade, according to the BLS.
Education and training vary widely depending upon the specific occupation you're interested in. If your interest is in fashion design, then you typically need at least an associate's degree in fashion design. An eye for detail, as well as color, is important in the fashion industry. An ability to translate your ideas through sketches confers a distinct advantage when looking for employment. In an associate's degree program, you may expect to take classes in fashion illustration, fundamentals of apparel design, the history of costume, clothing construction and patternmaking. You also learn computer-aided design (CAD) for fashion design and develop a portfolio to show prospective employers.
If your desire is to be a craft artist or textile designer, you may wish to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in textile or fiber arts. Typically, a BFA program provides you with a more extensive foundation in drawing and sketching as well as computer-aided design. You may expect to take courses in art history, public speaking and creative thinking strategies. Additionally, you learn about the history of fabric, as well as how to do screen-printing, repeat pattern design, dyeing, weaving, sewing, felting and papermaking.
If becoming a university professor or working in management is your goal, you may want to consider a master's program in fiber or textile arts. A master's program will delve deeper into design creation, such as the human factors involved in design. You may expect to take classes like fabric history, surfaces and structures, professional practice in fiber and art criticism. You learn about subjects such as patterns, motifs and images. A master's program will typically require a written thesis, as well as an original exhibition of your designs.