A Full Range of Experiences

Students will learn a variety of skills in our program. ‘Masters’ Equivalent students will create their own brand, while Pre-College students will enter an immersive and intensive program where they will learn all the basics and more of designing, creating and owning in the fashion industry. After-hours studio time will be available for more in-depth design work. An awareness of the interconnectedness of each step in the process makes for a better designer, a better customer service director, a better financial manager, and most importantly, a better future leader.


200 Skills Through
Experience Stations

DETAILS of Skills development at each STATION


1. Design Station: 30 skills

Upon successful completion of the Design Station Module, students will be able to:

  • Research current trends using online and other resources.  
  • Develop flat sketches for line sheets.
  • Drape patterns on a dress form.
  • Layout patterns and cut fabric.
  • Print original designs on fabrics.
  • Identify and use the appropriate fabrics in the design and construction process.
  • Create sculptural effects by knitting and surface manipulations.


  • Using Industry and online sources for Researching current trends
  • Understanding historical influences, and the Politics of Fashion
  • Sketching to capture an idea vs. detail renditions for Line Sheets


  • Using a dress form
  • The transition from draping into flat patterning
  • Techniques for draping woven vs. knit fabrics
  • Flattering shapes for a range of body types
  • Fitting to the body: darts, elastic, curves, bias cutting…


  • Cutting directions for fabrics with Nap e.g. velvet and faux furs
  • Cutting fabrics that move e.g. stretch fabrics, sheer fabrics
  • Layout of intersecting pattern pieces for efficiency
  • Quick rules for neck hole and armhole sizes for children and adult

Print Making

  • Commercial Print design and print matching
  • Screen printing, stenciling, hand painting, roller printing…


  • Fiber identification: cotton, linen, bamboo, polyester, wool…
  • Texture identification: Faux fur, metallics, sheers, and eyelets…
  • Wovens identification: tweeds, tartans, and twills…
  • Dyeing different fibers: the color wheel, safety, percentage dyeing

Creating 3D Sculptural effects

  • Advanced hand knitting, machine knitting, commercial knitwear
  • Twisting, bunching, tying, layering…
  • Manipulating surfaces: embroidery, beading, quilting, crochet, and felting…
  • Seams in beaded and embroidered fabrics


2. Product Development Station: 27 skills

Upon successful completion of the Product Development Module, students will be able to:

  • Source, develop, and test fabrics.
  • Develop, cut, and fit the first sample garment.
  • Develop a salesman’s sample line.
  • Inventory and code garments using industry specifications.
  • Create a pattern library system.

Sourcing Fabrics, Trims and Notions

  • Decision making process involved in selecting and purchasing
  • Sourcing and recording purchases at national Trade Shows
  • Work directly with Jobbers, decision making and recording purchases
  • Sourcing from and recording purchases from Converters
  • Developing, Sourcing and recording purchases from American Artisans
  • Creating a purchase order form
  • Follow up skills

Developing new fabrics

  • Developing fabric to be made by American suppliers
  • Developing fabric to be made by International suppliers
  • Visits to American suppliers

Garment Development

  • Developing a ‘first sample garment’
  • Initial pattern making with plan to make 100 per style
  • Testing the fabric performance and potential finishing techniques
  • Cutting the first sample from the test pattern
  • Sewing the first sample and altering style proportions
  • Testing on fit model
  • Pattern adjustment
  • Making a Factory sample
  • Making Multiple Salesman’s samples

Garment Specification Recording

  • Naming and assigning inventory code using industry specifications
  • Recording Measurements, front, back, sleeves, collars, cuffs….
  • Recording fabric Swatches and cutting direction instructions
  • Recording Sewing Techniques for construction and finishing
  • Recording thread color, care instruction and fiber content
  • Flat photography of sample for Spec sheet

Using the Pattern ‘Library’

  • Assigning pattern numbers and variations to new garment designs
  • Creating a pattern library system using industry standards


3. Pattern Making Station: 20 skills

Upon successful completion of the Pattern Making Module, students will be able to:

  • Develop a set of basic patterns.
  • Grade patters for various sizes.
  • Understand fit requirements for adults, children, missy, and juniors.
  • Manipulate patterns to create new designs.
  • Understand the American and International garment sizing system.

Understanding a garment pattern

  • Following directions on domestic patterns – Grain Lines and cut directions
  • Industry patterns and industry directions
  • Using Basic Patterns for shells, pants, skirts, dresses, tunics, jackets
  • Manipulating Basic patterns – where and how to add length and width
  • Creating a set of basic patterns (blocks) for their own body shape


  • Grading regular sizes – XS, S, M, L and XL
  • Grading 3 Plus Sizes – 1X, 2X, 3X
  • Grading from a One Size to a One Size plus
  • Grading size 1, 2 and 3
  • Where to grade for added height
  • Where to grade for weight gain

Fit requirements

  • Children’s vs. Adults
  • Junior vs. Missy

Pattern manipulation

  • Adding volume and swing
  • Taking out volume and swing
  • Splitting a dress into a top and bottom
  • Joining a top and bottom into a dress

Sizing systems

  • American Sizing systems
  • International Sizing Systems
  • Creating a sizing system for a new label


4. Sample Evaluation Station: 13 skills

Upon successful completion of the Sample Evaluation Module, students will be able to:

  • Review, plan, and develop a collection.
  • Test and choose the appropriate sewing techniques for selected fabrics.
  • Calculate the cost and price the collection.
  • Evaluate the market competition.

Developing a collection 

  • Reviewing past successes and failures
  • Planning the Line Sheet
  • Formulas for numbers of tops vs. bottoms
  • Inventory of sample fabric on hand and potential wholesale quantities
  • Confirming price breaks on fabric quantities, adjusting number of styles
  • Testing different sewing techniques for selected fabrics

Costing and pricing a collection 

  • Different Industry formulas for calculating costs
  • Calculating labor and materials costs per collection
  • Industry formulas for pricing a collection at wholesale and retail
  • What the market will bear/evaluating competition
  • Perceived value and how to raise it in a low cost way
  • Graphing low price/high production vs. high price/limited production
  • Risk/reward analysis and Murphy’s Law


5. Sample Making Station: 30 skills

Upon successful completion of the Sample Making Module, students will be able to:

  • Prepare, trouble shoot, and operate the industrial straight sew machine.
  • Prepare, trouble shoot, and operate the industrial overlocker/serger machine.
  • Prepare, trouble shoot, and operate the industrial buttonhole machine.
  • Prepare, trouble shoot, and operate the pearl stitch machine.
  • Create markers for salesman’s samples.
  • Cut, sew, code, and label samples.

Industrial Straight Sew Machine

  • Thread machine from empty
  • Fill bobbin and position bobbin by feel under the machine
  • Problem solve tension problems to achieve a strong, stable stitch
  • Use back tack and knee lift functions
  • Control machine speed and direction
  • Construct a basic garment quickly using this machine

Industrial Overlocker/Serger Machine

  • Thread machine from empty
  • Problem solve tension problems to achieve a strong, balanced stitch
  • Construct a basic garment using this machine
  • Control machine speed and direction
  • Construct a basic garment quickly using this machine

Industrial Buttonhole Machine

  • Thread machine from empty
  • Follow Safety precautions
  • Problem solve tension problems to achieve a strong, stable buttonhole

Industrial Pearl Stitch Machine

  • Thread machine from empty
  • Problem solve tension problems to achieve a strong, stable stitch
  • Use multiple thread types to achieve different edges
  • Control machine speed and direction

Markers for sample making

  • Initial test laying out patterns for efficient industrial machine cutting
  • Initial calculation of layers and fabric quantity
  • Creating efficient markers for salesman’s samples
  • Anticipating a marker for single style/ multiple size cut run

Sewing the samples

  • Test cutting for industrial speed of production
  • Following the order of construction for industrial speed
  • Finishing techniques for industrial speed
  • Positioning of Labels and Care tags
  • Coding and labeling samples for sales reps
  • Creating a finished Line sheet with pricing, colors and sizing
  • Communication with sales reps
  • Communication with boutiques and buyers


6. Marketing Station: 26 skills

Upon successful completion of the Marketing Station Module, students will be able to:

  • Plan, organize, and manage photo shoots.
  • Understand the purpose of Look Books.
  • Differentiate between ads in trade magazines, brick and mortar boutiques, and online businesses.
  • Navigate social media.
  • Investigate new platforms for marketing.

Photo shoots 

  • Working with modeling agencies – costs, benefits and relationships
  • Working with friends – costs and benefits and relationships
  • Creating a ‘look’ – working with hair and makeup artists
  • Lighting for different effects
  • Planning a shoot with 50 styles in one day
  • Teaching a new model what the camera ‘sees’ vs. real life
  • Managing a studio shoot, recording combinations of styles
  • Shooting for the web vs. advertising
  • Managing 1000 photos from a one day shoot using ‘Light Room’
  • Guidelines for selecting which photos to process
  • Using Photo Shop including ‘liquefy tool’

Look Books

  • Purpose
  • Cost for urgent vs. normal
  • Layout using ‘In Design’
  • Printers and types of digital ‘files’ required
  • Proofing
  • Digital versions


  • Ads in Trade Magazines for seasonal shows
  • Ads for Brick and Mortar Boutiques to use
  • On Line businesses

Social Media 

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • Twitter
  • New platforms and Guerrilla marketing


7. Customer Service Station: 33 skills

Upon successful completion of the Customer Service Station Module, students will be able to:

  • Network with sales reps from various regions.
  • Locate sales reps for target lines.
  • Showcase lines at trade shows.
  • Hang, tag, and ship garments.
  • Communicate with independent specialty boutiques.
  • Communicate with direct online customers.
  • Manage administrative and office duties.

Sales Reps 

  • Working with our sales reps in New England, NY, Mid Atlantic, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Los Angeles
  • Recording samples sent to reps and returned from them
  • How to research a suitable sales rep for your own line
  • Communicating with a sales rep for the first time
  • Choosing to be your own sales rep
  • Alternative methods of going to market
  • Sales commissions, reorders, show room fees, show fees, draw down
  • Negotiable relationships


  • Buyers Lists
  • Selecting a Trade Show
  • Setting up a booth at a Trade Show
  • Department stores requirements: special hangers, tags, shipping
  • Delay from ordering to delivery for production
  • credit worthiness checks, COD, and CC orders
  • methods of communication – on line trade magazines

Independent Specialty Boutique owners

  • Who are they
  • Where are they
  • What they need for the window
  • reorders – risk vs. reward
  • special orders
  • methods of communication – phone calls from boutique staff
  • Age of customers and buying habits

Direct Online customer relationships 

  • Who are they
  • How to get them
  • Maintaining them
  • Methods of communication – mobile devices
  • Age of customers and buying habits

Words and pictures

  • How to answer the phone or an e-mail
  • sending photos by e-mail or in Dropbox
  • guiding the customer to a product that fills their need
  • getting to yes
  • defusing an upset customer: making them your biggest fan
  • Following up and recording results


8. Production Station: 18 skills

Upon successful completion of the Production Station Module, students will be able to:

  • Plan and calculate a production run.
  • Calculate man-hours for payroll.
  • Calculate piece rate per garment and handwork.
  • Manage a production run for a collection.

Planning a production run

  • Commonly used ratios for sizes
  • Calculating an over run by projecting from sales data
  • Industry formulas for risk management
  • WIP – work in progress
  • single operator vs. team approach to sewing
  • Using reports of orders, inventory, need to make
  • Checking against reality for common sense estimates
  • Man-Hours calculations for hiring additional piece rate workers
  • Formulas for calculating piece rate pay per garment
  • Formulas for calculating piece rate for handwork

Managing Production

  • Industrial machine cutting – how many garments in one cut run
  • how many cut runs per week
  • How many cut runs per collection
  • How many cut runs per season
  • Twenty machine operators – how many garments per day
  • Handwork – how many buttons per day
  • Inspection – how many garments per day
  • Sorting in Shipping – how many garments per day
  • Daily tasks to keep production ticking
  • Early Alarm Bells – how to recognize production is off track
  • Adjusting a plan on the fly
  • Buying and Repairing machines


9. Inventory Management Station: 18 skills

Upon successful completion of the Inventory Management Module, students will be able to:

  • Manage databases, spreadsheets, and inventories.
  • Understand the quality control process of garment production.
  • Understand and navigate the USA garment labeling requirements.

Inventory data base management

  • Understanding a database
  • Getting reports from a database
  • Adding data into a database
  • Limits of databases
  • Databases vs. spread sheets for new businesses
  • Counting and recording year end inventory

Quality Control

  • Inspection check list – what to watch for all garment production
  • Catching a new problem in a new style
  • Common Solutions for common problems e.g. oil machine spots
  • The two problem trick for solving new problems creatively
  • Replacing fabrics in an on-going style
  • Dry cleaners and crushed style fabric designs

USA labeling requirements

  • What country of origin if China provides just the thread
  • Care instructions and who is liable
  • Fiber content and how to find out if your supplier doesn’t know
  • Registration numbers
  • Style numbers
  • Sizing


10. Distribution Station: 20 skills

Upon successful completion of the Distribution Station Module, students will be able to:

  • Estimate the number of designs and garments to generate per year.
  • Develop systems for moving garments from production to stores.
  • Develop packing slips and invoices.

200 designs per year

  • Environment to generate an average of a design a day, every day

20,000 garments per year

  • System to move 100 garments a day out the door

500 boutiques

  • System of Alphabetical and dating system by cancel date
  • Why is a Cancel Date in the Fashion industry so crucial
  • System to sort multiple styles into orders efficiently

Packing Slips

  • What is a packing slip vs. an invoice
  • What information goes on a packing slip but not an invoice
  • Why
  • How to use one to record what is with the order
  • creating one for your own company


  • What is an invoice
  • What information goes on one vs. a packing slip
  • Why
  • System to track invoices
  • Electronic vs. paper invoicing
  • Electronic payments vs. checks
  • Recording consignment goods leaving and returning to the facility
  • What are the two ways ‘Trunk Show’ is used in the Industry
  • Invoicing sold consignment goods
  • Online sales and invoicing


11. Financial Station: 45 skills

Upon successful completion of the Financial Station Module, students will be able to:

  • Assess, Set-up, and manage a company.
  • Maintain a company’s checkbook: Income and Expenditures.
  • Understand the ratio of Payables to Receivables.
  • Negotiate sales reps commission.
  • Navigate funding a business.
  • Understand negative and positive cash flow.
  • Understanding the Profits and Loss (P &L) Statement.
  • Maintaining Balance Sheets.


  • Assessing the viability of the product concept – segment of the market.

Financial Data Management

  • How to legally set up a company
  • Who could you bring into your company? Should you?
  • Choosing a sole proprietorship, partnership, S Corp, or C Corp
  • Where to set up your company
  • What can you do vs. a CPA
  • How to keep financial data safe
  • How often is financial data updated
  • Who does it
  • Taxes: Payroll taxes, sales taxes, corporate taxes


  • How to run a checkbook
  • How to pay electronically
  • A notebook with two columns: Money in, Money out.
  • QuickBooks on the cloud
  • Accrual Vs Cash accounting
  • Robbing Peter to pay Paul
  • Interest paid out on Loans


  • What are they
  • How long till payment is average in the industry
  • Ratio of Payables to Receivables for a healthy company
  • Late payments
  • Credit Card Payments
  • Working with Debt collectors
  • Working with Factors: industry financiers who take a % of receipts
  • Interest paid by banks on extra cash
  • Floating additional cash in the stock market

Sales Commissions

  • Negotiating when sales reps commissions are paid
  • Retrieving commission payments on unpaid invoices
  • Consignment commission and returns

Banking Relationships

  • Self Funding your business
  • Boot strapping
  • What to look for in a banking relationship
  • Signing an I Dot on your house
  • Where else can money come from
  • Pluses and minuses on borrowing from friends and family
  • Kick Starter type funding
  • Interest paid in on free cash

Cash Flow

  • What is Cash Flow
  • What does healthy Cash Flow look like
  • What does unhealthy Cash Flow look like and what choices follow

Profit and Loss

  • What is a P&L Statement
  • What does a healthy P&L look like and what choices follow
  • What does unhealthy P&L look like and what choices follow

Balance Sheets

  • What is a Balance Sheet
  • What does a healthy Balance Sheet look like and what choices follow
  • What does an unhealthy Balance Sheet look like and what choices follow.


12. Personal Development Station: 15 skills

Upon successful completion of the Personal Development Station Module, students will be able to:

  • Understand the process that is involved in launching a label and running a business.
  • Create a cohesive ten-piece collection of original design.
  • Navigate the Maryland Fashion Institute (MDFin) facility independently.
  • Participate in MDFin events such as the ManneqART competition and the Art to Wear TV series

Your own label and own business vs. working for an established company

  • Ambition: changing the world
  • The Creative Drive
  • Recognition
  • Learning on someone else’s dime
  • Independence vs. security
  • 40 hours vs. 80 hours per week
  • Health care and child care
  • Etsy or easing in
  • Retail vs. wholesale
  • Head Hunters

Creating the Story

  • Creating a cohesive collection for presenting at Trade shows

Access to MDFin facility after hours

  • Access to sewing machines
  • Access to fabric cutter

Additional Experiences with MDFin

  • – Sculpture on the Human Form, an annual non-profit competition where artists create wearable art that showcases one of the 4 unique themes selected for that year. These pieces are then shown in free public displays, placed in an annual calendar, and showcased in a magnificent Masquerade Ball & Awards Gala where artists are awarded monetary prizes and certificates of honor.