“White Shirt Project” was my first project at LCDF. Despite having some experience with design before, this was the first time I crafted everything from the ground up, or from the first piece of fabric. From brainstorming, developing over 40 concept sketches, pattern making to building a skeleton model….
I remember vividly the feeling of going into the sewing studio for the first time. I was still a bit cumbersome and had to request assistance from teachers and TAs many, many times. The stitches were crooked because the pedal was not held stably, there were multiple technical issues (the strings got tangled, broken needles,...). I haven’t had my own sewing machine yet, on top of encountering many errors, so I had to stay at school until dusk to finish the next week’s assignment. Everything that was going on built up pressure in me and I thought I was never going to finish making a single shirt.
At the time, my strengths lay in research and sketchbook development (R&D) so I channeled all my time and energy into those aspects of my studies. My concepts were inspired by women in the military, especially military women of color.
I used to visit military museums to find inspiration for my designs. I acutely observed and analyzed details on each cannon, tank, aircraft fragments,... I also studied extensively the American military uniforms and their accessories. Each injury, each scar in the war was the source of my textile inspiration.
The month where I scrupulously completed the project (creating the skeleton and coming up with the final model) was the most difficult for me. I barely slept and there were days where I teared up because the machine was broken and the stitches were, well, torn up. Not to mention the real life model would fail to come together if my sketch had any inkling of a mistake. During those days, I took the risk of going with a layered fabric design (to avoid accidentally creating a mere “t-shirt”). By the end of the semester, I seeked help and advice from people with advanced skills so as to complete the project.
When it was time for the photoshoot, after consulting with the right people, I was faced with the challenging task of finding models of color. The reason for this is the main model’s internal characteristics will unravel with clarity in my concept.
I ended up being overjoyed when my work was displayed at the school’s main lobby. It was my goal from the beginning but I never imagined it would become real. When our drive and ambition is lit up like an eternal flame, we finally realize that we can achieve so much more than we think. Most importantly, we must not walk the journey ourselves but have the confidence to ask for help from others so we can run.
Being awarded with a Distinction grade in the first semester was my motivation to keep grinding for the next semesters. The work I put in to receive the grade was not mine alone but of the teachers, friends and my loved ones that have always stayed by my side.