As a result of funding provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Mozilla Hive Toronto, the Textile Museum of Canada has developed five workshop modules for youth that are adaptable and flexible for educational institutions or social and cultural organizations. This summer Fashion Futures workshops were facilitated at three Toronto Public Library branches, as part of a ten week sewing program offered by SKETCH, and as a part of the AGO’s FREE After Three program, and, with the start of a new school year, are now a new offering within the Textile Museum of Canada’s school visits program.
The Fashion Futures curriculum recognizes that fashion is not impervious to global issues, such as climate change, resource scarcity, vulnerable economic conditions, and changing consumer behaviour. Like any creative practice, fashion also is a tool for responding to those issues, evident in developments from slow fashion and upcycling to smart textiles and wearable tech. These themes shape each of the five modules:
1. Smart is Beautiful Focus: wearable tech/soft electronics
Using conductive thread and LED lights, youth will create a wristband or armband to reflect their current mood. Inspired by mood rings, participants will choose an appropriate colour of LED lights and consider symbols that can be stitched onto their armband as another mode of communication. Basic sewing skills will be taught as well as the basics of electronic circuitry, and participants will consider the innovative ways that traditional sewing materials like safety pins and hooks and eyes can be used to create electrical switches in these very contemporary pieces.
2. Fantasy to Fabrication Focus:3D design and printing
Utilizing a set of tablets or desktop computers, participants will experiment with designing jewellery and accessories with 3D design apps, using basic shapes to create fully original, printable 3D models. Workshop participants will be challenged to think practically to design a 3D construct that is functional both in digital and real space. Using conventional materials, workshop participants will be challenged replicate their design using a single sheet of cardstock paper. This activity will allow them to reflect on the efficient and no-waste quality of a 3D printer. While working on their design challenge, youth may have the opportunity to see a 3D printer in action as some of their designs are printed.
3. Refuge Wear Focus: fashion as source of protection
Through subtractive (material is removed) or additive (material is added) techniques, participants will transform the ubiquitous T-shirt into a garment that can be adapted to multiple situations. Working from simple garment patterns, participants will create removable hoods and sleeves to attach to their T-shirt, and through simple cutting and sewing, create pockets and pouches to hide away precious objects and basic necessities. By donning this new garment, the wearer because a self-contained living pod.
4. Slow is Beautiful Focus: slow fashion as sustainable practice
This workshop will teach the basics of knitting and weaving, but with a twist! Participants will construct their own looms and knitting needles using everyday materials; yarn will be replaced with unexpected materials. Innovation is encouraged through an emphasis on process over final product.
5. Express Yourself Focus: self-defining by creating independent designs
Identifying patterns and symbols that define the most distinguishing features of their own identity, youth will design a logo to represent their own personal brand. Participants will then carve their design from a soft block, and create multiple prints of their design that can be then sewn onto clothing or create a design digitally that can be printed and then applied through heat transfer. Badges can also be exchanged with friends or used to tag public spaces. Besides encouraging creative expression, this workshop will allow youth to explore the possibility of developing their own product or brand based on interests and principles of personal value, cultivating entrepreneurial skills.
Contact the Education Programs Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org to book one of these workshops or to receive a copy of the curriculum to facilitate your own Fashion Futures workshops!