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Textiles and Fashion as the Contemporary Response.

Textile & Fashion Design

Textile and Fashion Design at MECA imparts a deep understanding of the design and fabrication of textiles, extensive study of the field of apparel, and exploration of creative expression through the omnipresent medium of fashion.

Receive specialized instruction from Maine’s top industry professionals, contemporary designers, and textile artists while becoming familiar with the vocabulary of technique, material, color, pattern, texture, form, and silhouette.

Acquire the skills and experience to become a confident textile and fashion designer. Delve into material exploration, surface design, fabric manipulation and embellishment, machine knitting, silk screen printing, pattern drafting and draping, garment construction, concept development, and fashion sketching.

Textile and Fashion Design students at MECA are engaged in the process of designing collections, building portfolios and preparing for the future through internships, sponsored studios, and guided entrepreneurship.

Launched in 2013, it was made possible thanks to the generous support of Maine-based philanthropist Roxanne Quimby.


  • Faculty
  • Alumni
  • Student
  • Allison Bonin '16

    While our department is growing steadily, I am enjoying its intimacy and pioneering spirit.

    Describe a body of work that you are currently working on. My current body of work is inspired by a pair of vintage Jell-O molds that were gifted to me over the summer. Like the Jell-O mold, I want these dresses and coats to be highly versatile. The refined designs can be replicated through many […]Read More

  • Ashley Wernher-Collins '16

    Watching a textile come to life on the body is extremely rewarding.

    Describe a body of work that you are currently working on. Currently, my work reflects themes of transformation as it relates to personal growth or natural experiences. In my machine knitting class I recently finished a garment that was inspired by a snake shedding its skin. In my Major’s Studio, I am working on a […]Read More

  • Textile & Fashion Design Majors

    Colorful costumes designed by MECA students and faculty were featured in "An Alice Symphony."

    The colorful costumes seen in the Portland Symphony Orchestra and The Portland Ballet’s performance of “An Alice Symphony” by Del Tredici were designed by Textile & Fashion Design students and faculty.  Part of an Enchanted Favorites program, the symphony was in honor of the 150th anniversary of the . . .Read More

  • Kelsey Haley ’15

    I work to showcase the beauty that exists in different cultures throughout the world.

    Inspiration for designer Kelsey Haley comes from travel.  “Whether it be the people I meet, the architecture, weather, culture, or religion, all of these components play a role in the making of my textiles and final garments. I work to showcase the beauty that exists in different cultures throughout the world, inspired by ancestry, . . .Read More

  • Rose Allard '14

    I learned to explore color, and was encouraged to think and work big.

    Rose Allard bears the distinction of being the first person to graduate from MECA with a BFA in Textile & Fashion Design. Her thesis collection, Finnwear:  Sisu Coats, was inspired by her Finnish grandmother. “Growing up with an insatiable love for sewing, fibers, art and clothing, the Textile & Fashion Design Department, . . .Read More

  • Faculty Anne Emlein + Faculty Rose Allard '14

    I remember as a small girl watching the lobstermen sitting around the general store knitting mittens and trap . . .

    Faculty Anne Emlein and Faculty Rose Allard ’14 were chosen as a Master / Apprentice pair in the 2016 Craft Apprentice Program, implemented by Maine Crafts Association and Maine Arts Commission. The seven-month CAP apprenticeship offers concentrated peer-to-peer learning experiences for apprentices who demonstrate a commitment to . . .Read More

  • Anne Emlein

    Fashion, in the broad sense of the word, finds Mainers at the forefront.

    ON HER ART Textiles and fashion are an immediate, everyday form of expression and something everyone everywhere has participated in since time immemorial, on an individual level, and collectively. Whether “making art” or pursuing a hobby, textiles and fashion always figure in. For me, it isn’t black and white. Whether I am hiking, . . .Read More

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  • Formal

    Students will receive an in-depth education in the field of textiles, learning the properties and uses of fibers, textile techniques, and structures. This foundation will support the students’ explorations in surface design, mark-making, and repeat pattern through surface embellishment and structural manipulation practices. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of color, pattern development, and the expressive qualities of texture and materials in order to build a working vocabulary in support of the development of personal concepts that drive the creative process.

    Students will explore the human form as a kinetic 3D armature employing the expressive qualities of textiles as a medium in relation to the body, including the placement of pattern on the body, understanding the scale of garments in relation to the body, and exploring the transformation of the silhouette of the human form through clothing.

    Students will learn the evolution of apparel academically and experientially through draping practices by using basic shapes as they relate to the body, supported by the consideration of textile techniques and material choices. Flat pattern drafting and garment construction paired with appropriate choices of textile and textile techniques will serve as a means by which to develop a comprehensive and meaningful body of work.

  • Conceptual

    From the creation of a 2D textile surface to the 3D form of a garment, students will employ the expressive nature of textiles as they relate to the human form. Students will cultivate skills in developing personal concepts that drive their work, supported by an in-depth understanding of the expressive qualities of textiles: materials, techniques, pattern, texture, and color as they relate to the human form through garments and the contemporary expression of fashion. Students will develop the ability to work independently and collaboratively in the classroom community in support of developing processes by which one cultivates sound studio and professional practices. An in-depth knowledge base of textiles and dress in the historical and contemporary context, both regionally and internationally, will serve as a continuous point of reference as the students continue to master the ability to research, critique, present, and articulate about the fields of textiles and fashion.

  • Technical

    Strong emphasis will be placed on hand processes supported by traditional textile and apparel technologies in order to build a working knowledge of non-structured textiles (felt, paper, leather), woven structures (warp and weft grids), and knitted structures (continuous inter-looping structure) as well as a working knowledge of print techniques for apparel fabrics: dyes and pigments, stenciling, canning, stamping, and fabric silkscreen. Students will learn surface design fundamentals: structural manipulation and surface embellishment, including motif type, repeat pattern, croquis, field composition, mark-making, spacing, and scale of motif for print design, knitted fabrics, and garment construction. Studio practices will include mastering industrial sewing machines, single and double bed knitting machines and linkers, dye lab equipment, fabric silkscreen print studio equipment, supporting computer programs (i.e. Photoshop and Illustrator). An in-depth working knowledge of flat pattern drafting and draping, advanced garment construction and tailoring techniques, and knitwear design and construction will complete the students’ technical education.

  • Professional

    The graduate of the Textile and Fashion Design Program will be confident and inspired in his/her ability to relate to the field of textiles and fashion, and will have internalized the program’s professional values so as to be able to cultivate ongoing interest and involvement in contemporary fashion, innovations in textiles and a capacity to develop professionally with a working knowledge of professional connections in the field. With consistent and tangible experience in developing personal concepts to support an enduring practice, the Textile and Fashion Design major will have an established vocabulary in materials, techniques and working processes with which to found an independent entrepreneurial practice, or seek employment in textile/fashion industries as knitwear designers, pattern drafters, print designers, sewing technicians, and 
the like. Students will write an articulate artist statement and biography, create an appropriate resume, and draft a cover letter. Students will be required to create both a digital and material portfolio, a website, and a product prototype with a theoretical business plan. Students will be supported by MECA’s Artists at Work Program in helping them find meaningful internships with local and regional textile and fashion practitioners, designers, and businesses. Each student’s senior thesis will realize a “collection” presented during an
 annual fashion show.


  • What are some of the career paths for someone who majors in Textile and Fashion Design?

    Our students establish independent entrepreneurial practices, or seek employment in textile/fashion industries as fashion designers, knitwear designers, pattern drafters, print and surface designers, and sewing technicians, to name a few.

  • How do you prepare your students for the real world?

    Students will be required to create both a digital and material portfolio, a website, and a product prototype with a theoretical business plan. Students will be supported by MECA’s Artists at Work program in helping them find meaningful internships with local and regional textile and fashion practitioners, designers and businesses. Each student’s senior thesis will realize a “collection” presented during an annual fashion show.

  • What are some examples of what your alumni are doing?

    Teaching, knitwear design ad production, freelance fashion design, and print design.

  • What are the prerequisites to major in Textile and Fashion Design?

    Introduction to Textiles, and Introduction to Fashion and Apparel. Pending: (200 level) Fundamentals of Sewing and Garment Construction.

  • Will I be able to incorporate other media or interests with my work as a Textile and Fashion Design major?

    Absolutely! Knowledge of textiles and fashion is a great foundation for working in such media as sculpture, graphic design, jewelry, and even painting, to name a few.


Courses in design, surface pattern, materials and dyeing, and costume and textile history complement the acquisition of textile techniques in knitting and printing— techniques that are simultaneously applied to courses in apparel design and construction. While these courses are supported by technology, strong emphasis is placed on hand processes.

Preparation (1st and 2nd Year)
Introduction to Textiles (TF 101) and Introduction to Fashion and Apparel (TF 102)

Junior Year (3rd Year)
Majors Studio: Fashion Design (TF 321-TF 322), Introduction to the Discipline (TF 351), Junior Seminar (SEM 352-3-4), and (2) Approved Studio Electives

Senior Year (4th Year)
Major Studio III: Textile & Fashion (TF 421), Major Studio IV: Collection (TF 422), Senior Synthesis (SEM 451-SEM 452), and (2) Approved Studio Electives

Workspace & Tools
  • Industrial sewing machines
  • Knitting machines
  • Print facilities
  • Industry dress forms
  • Felting machine
  • Dye lab
  • Weaving looms
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What do our alumni do?

Statistics from the 2015 Strategic National Arts Alumni project (SNAAP)

Did you know?

55% is the national average for arts alumni that work as professional artists.

45% is the national average for arts alumni that are self employed, independent contractors, or freelance workers.


Work as professional artists


Work as graphic designers, illustrators, or art directors


Founded a business


Work as craft artists


Work as fine artists


Work as art teachers


Pursued an MFA after graduation


Are self-employed, independent contractors or freelance workers


Make art in their personal time

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