Sew Much More offers platform for UT apparel design students


Maria Arrellaga


Senior apparel design students Mehgan McKinney, Kaitlin Rowland and Kinni Song were assigned the task of constructing garments out of cotton fabric to use in an activity of their choice. 


Elizabeth Williams

The morning of Nov. 3 brought a hectic rush of sewing enthusiasts to local sewing store Sew Much More. Hanspeter Ueltschi, the fourth generation owner of world-renowned sewing machine brand BERNINA International, was paying a visit to commend Sew Much More as one of Austin’s premier BERNINA dealers and sign a few fans’ sewing machines along the way. Even though Ueltschi brought out the crowds, the morning’s stars turned out to be three apparel design seniors from UT.

Students in the apparel design department were all assigned the task of designing and producing an ensemble out of cotton fabric suitable for an activity or sport of their choice. The outfits were then judged on the quality of their design, the construction of the garment and the garment’s suitability for the chosen activity. The outfits were so impressive that a first, second and third place were awarded to seniors Mehgan McKinney, Kaitlin Rowland and Kinni Song, respectively.

“The owners of the store were on a panel to judge our designs and they enjoyed it so much they invited us to show them in the store,” Rowland said.

Students found design inspiration from three very different activities: McKinney designed a sleek black and orange motorcycle outfit, Rowland designed a camouflage hunting ensemble with pops of purple and Song designed a mint green ice-skating dress and pants with reflective tape accents.

The designs featured at Sew Much More are just a fraction of the young women’s growing senior portfolios. These outfits will be making another appearance as they walk the runway in the design school’s spring fashion show. After graduation they will begin their foray into the working world of fashion.

“Eventually, we’d all like to be designers,” McKinney said. “That’s really all of our goals.”

The talents displayed by the students are a testament to the growing textiles and apparels department in UT’s School of Human Ecology.

“Companies in New York like Christian Dior and Marc Jacobs know about our students,” design lecturer Karen Bravo said.

The apparel design department at UT is unlike other fashion institutes that focus solely on creative processes and design.

“Our students have to take many courses outside of actual textile and design courses,” Bravo said. “They take classes like Business Foundations and are preparing themselves to actually run a business, not just design.”

Women and men, young and old bustled throughout the store, stumbling upon the students’ designs. Many stopped to take pictures of the ensembles and marvel at the girls’ work.

“Right now, we’re learning how to work for others,” Rowland said. “But I can’t wait to be the one in charge.”