Federica Belli takes an unexpected journey from product design to fashion

Federica in her first Intermediate Construction project:
a pajama top. “I like colorful stuff,” she declares.

Student Federica Belli arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010 when her husband began a business degree at U.C. Berkeley. Although the couple originally expected to stay for only two years, they’re still here! Last fall Federica began taking classes in the Cañada fashion department. After hearing about the program from a friend, she spoke with Ronda, and the next thing you know, she was signed up for Beginning Construction. (Don’t worry, Federica, Ronda has that effect on all of us!)

Federica is originally from Milan, Italy and—not surprisingly—has a strong design sensibility. However, her predilection for aesthetics drew her toward product design rather than fashion. Federica earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Product Design at the Politecnico di Milano—with one year abroad in Montreal—but she did little sewing during her studies. “I did make two, pear-shaped, white bean bag chairs,” she qualifies. Afterwards she thought, “I could do the same with garments!”

The Politecnico di Milano, where Federica went to school before coming to Cañada.

Federica has two small children—a five-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl. As a result, she only has time for one class at Cañada per semester. Nevertheless she has made quick progress, advancing to Intermediate Construction this semester. She recently completed her pajama top project and took it to another level by making a matching dress for her daughter.

“I like to sew for her more than for me,” Federica explains. “I also really want to make a shirt for my son,” she adds. “It’s on the to-do list.”

Eventually Federica would like to take Flat Pattern and Tailoring “for sure.” Beyond that, she doesn’t know if she’ll be going for a fashion certificate. If so, it will take some time, she notes. Meanwhile she’s having a lot of fun. “It’s really a pleasure to come to class,” Federica declares enthusiastically. “The community’s great, Ronda’s terrific, and the people are unique characters,” she says affectionately.

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