Every fashion designer needs the right tools for the trade to make their work easier. While there are some tools that, as a fashion designer, you can do without, there are some others that are essential, and owning them is non-negotiable.
This week, we spoke with Mrs. Abisoye Martins Odugba on the essential tools every fashion designer needs when starting.
Abisoye Martins Odugba is the Founder and Creative Director of Nijane Flair, a fashion brand that specialises in bespoke outfits for women, men, and children. She started her fashion brand in 2011 but couldn’t give it the attention it deserved until she resigned from her 9-5 job in 2018 to focus squarely on it.
She is a fashion enthusiast who believes there is no end to fashion designing as the industry grows every day and enjoys designing and sewing outfits. She is also a mother of 2 children.
For her, fashion design tools are “necessary tools needed to turn fabrics into finished dresses/garments.”
Essential Tools Every Fashion Designer Needs
There are certain tools every fashion designer needs to make the job easier. These are tools that, once available, you can use to do your work anywhere and anytime, and they are;
1. Sewing Machine
What fashion designer is complete without a sewing machine? A sewing machine tops the list of tools every fashion designer, who is not planning to outsource sewing, needs. There are different sewing machines for different purposes.
I started my fashion business with the manual sewing machine but it was hard to sew stretchy fabrics with it even when I used paper with it.
For example, even though the manual straight head sewing machine can sew almost any fabric, it does not work so well with stretchy fabrics so an industrial sewing machine is needed for such jobs.
2. Thread and Needles
Without thread and needed, you cannot use your sewing machine to make outfits or even do any form of hand stitching. Every fashion designer needs thread in various colours and sizes, and needles (both the machine needle and the normal needle).
Without thread and needle, it is impossible to make an outfit.
3. Sketchpad and Pencil
As a fashion designer, you will most likely design the outfits for your brand by yourself. When these designs come to mind you will need somewhere to sketch them down in to see what they look like and how you can adjust them to make them look better.
As a fashion designer, you need to always have your sketchpad and pencil (or pen) with you because inspiration sometimes comes from the most unexpected places.
4. Measuring Tape
As a bespoke fashion designer, to sew an outfit for a client requires that you have that client’s measurements. The measuring tape is the right tool for that. Many fashion designers carry it around in their purses in case there is a need to get a potential client’s measurements when outside their atelier. It is an important tool.
Sewing fabrics requires that you cut them first. A pair of scissors is what is used to cut out designs and patterns from fabrics. As a fashion designer, you need to remember that you need more than one pair of scissors in your atelier to serve different purposes.
For example, the scissors you use to cut your pattern paper should not be the same pair you use to cut your fabric. If you use one pair of scissors for many different purposes you will end up making it blunt fast.
This is the bane of many designers fashion designing existence because it is so easy to forget where you placed it while working.
I keep forgetting where I put them and then I get frustrated. So, when I start my work, I spread at least 5 around my entire work area in different colours.
The tailor’s chalk is a great tape measure partner. Just draw the lines once you have taken the measurement and you can start snipping away.
If you have been designing and sewing outfits for a while then you know the importance of pins. Pins are used for holding pieces of fabric together so you are sure that your seams will look perfect when you sew them down. When you use pins before sewing, it gives you an idea of how things will look after sewing.
The pearl-head pins are the perfect size to sink into your dress form and they can be grabbed easily.
Most designers use mannequins for fittings check after sewing outfits because they are perfect for that (especially if you have an adjustable mannequin). Since many customers do not show up for fittings but want the outfit to be perfect, your mannequin will help you out.
Mannequins can be used not only for fittings check but also for advert purposes when places in your fashion atelier. This is to show potential customers your work physically to entice them to patronise you and thus increase your customer base.
As a fashion designer, every work you do has to have neat finishing and look great. The iron helps with this. No fashion designer can bring out a perfect outfit without making use of an iron.
I cannot work without an iron.
Throughout the production process of an outfit, ironing is needed to flatten seams and pleats, attach stay, keep a pattern in shape, remove creases from pieces of fabric, and so on.
A wide clear table is as important as any other tool on this list. As a fashion designer, you need a table for cutting, laying out fabric, and the likes.
Tools you Do Not Need to Own at the Start of your Fashion Business
There are certain tools that as a beginner you might not necessarily need to own but which are still important in bringing out perfection in outfits. If you have the money to purchase these tools and to hire the right staff to operate them then that is the best way to go about it, but if not you can outsource them.
When it comes to work that requires you to use an industrial sewing machine, you can pay someone who owns one to do it for you.
There are people everywhere to make fashion designing easy.
For other aspects of fashion design that might require specialised machines like the weaving machine and embroidery machine, you can also pay someone to do them for you.
There are retired tailored who specialise in weaving and bottom holes, so I just take it there. There are embroidery guys everywhere too. I don’t know how to use the machine, so I just leave it for the specialist to do and I pay. It eases my work. Also, when the workload is much I still take clothes out for weaving.
Importance of Having these Essential Tools
1. Saves Cost
Once you purchase the essential tools you need for your fashion business, you do not need to pay anyone to do the work for you or to use their tools. Once you have paid for them once, you can use them as often as you like without bothering about other costs.
2. Gives you Freedom
Sometimes, human beings are hard to work with. If you do not have your essential fashion design tools you are at the mercy of others and this does not always work so well. Sometimes when you outsource production to others, they might disappoint you and not have your outfit ready when you need it. And sometimes, when you need to use someone else’s tool, the person might be busy so your work will have to wait.
Owning the essential fashion design tools gives you the freedom to work when you want to and at the pace that is suitable for you.
In closing, Abisoye said, “Keep growing daily. Search for classes to upgrade your skills on YouTube daily. Lastly, you can sew just about anything you put your heart to.”