I can’t believe that over a week has passed since my last post. I started this project with the intention of posting at least twice a week but the task of doing my job and trying to complete a version of the capstone projects with both the design and communication students is taking its toll. I am pretty sure it is going to get worse before it gets better. The design students are drafting a pattern, cutting out and sewing a completed outfit (sometimes with three or four pieces) in a week along with work in other classes. Many also have part time jobs. This is no small feat and if I had their youth on my side I would probably be pulling all nighters to get mine done as I am sure many of them do. The communication students are busy doing extensive research related to their topic and theoretical foundations, exploring different ways to communicate their results creatively, and producing the preliminary creative work.
Last week outfit two was due. My outfit two is a menswear look with a pair of slim pants to be made of black wool gabardine, a dress shirt to be made of a dark charcoal shirting with a small purple pinstripe, and a vest of black wool flannel with stripes applied in grey, purple and gold grosgrain. Here is the colour sketch and the technical drawings for outfit two.
So I completed it in muslin last weekend and took it to class on Thursday for my scheduled critique. There are 4 instructors in this class and each student is assigned to one of the instructors. During the class each student is scheduled a 10 minute time slot with their instructor to review their completed muslin. I made the pants and vest out of a normal weight muslin and used a lighter weight one for the shirt. These garments must be completely finished with pockets, lining, buttons, etc. On the muslin vest I showed the ribbon stripe placement and application in two ways. On the right side of the vest I showed how the ribbon would be applied by sewing on a few strips of scrap ribbon and on the left side of the vest I drew on stripes to show the exact placement of the colours. Here is the completed muslin on the ‘jimmy”.
The instructor had a look and said it was okay, so outfit two is done and ready to be produced in the final fabric…but I will put it aside for now as there are three more muslins to complete. I haven’t been able to see much of what the other students are doing because I was unable to attend the first muslin critique class and went to the communication meeting during the second muslin critique class after mine was reviewed just before class started. I am looking forward to spending some time walking around this Thursday to see their work at this stage.
So as soon as I went home on Thursday night I had moved on to outfit three which is due this week. Outfit three is a long dress and I have been having some challenges with it this weekend. The instructors have let the class know that if they want to make any changes to the final sketches in their design book they must request approval from their instructor before Monday at noon for the outfit that is due the following Thursday. After spending most of Saturday and Sunday struggling with the appliques that I had planned for the skirt I have sent a request to my instructor with a new sketch requesting permission to change the design details to something that I think I can better achieve and will work better in the end. Let’s hope it is approved…otherwise I am not sure how I will be able to finish the muslin by Thursday, if at all.
On Thursday afternoon I went to a meeting with my assigned small group and instructor and didn’t recognize any of the students from our previous meeting 2 weeks earlier. It turns out that I went to the wrong meeting 2 weeks ago and was not aware that I was in the wrong group. After meeting with the 4 women that I was assigned to a group with, I realized why we were grouped together, as the topics that they are working on have more similarity to the one I am working on than was the case with the previous group. I have been reading about “design thinking” to explore whether it could apply to the work we do in student affairs but as I have been reading I am much more interested in focusing on the first stage of design thinking – empathy – and exploring the role that empathy plays in our work and how we in student affairs can model and teach others in the university to make empathy part of their interaction with students and part of their decision making process. How can we make the university a more “empathetic” institution?
I am required to submit some preliminary “creative” to explore these issues on November 13 and while I had been thinking of trying to make a short film based on interviews with staff about empathy there is no way that I can manage this and complete two more muslins so now I am planning to write a short story as a sort of parable to explore what student affairs can do to build bridges between community members who struggle to put themselves in each others’ shoes. I owe the idea or bridge building concept to one of my staff, Tony Conte, based on his description of our work when I interviewed him about empathy. I still hope to complete the short film as part of my final communications submission for next term.