Cañada College Fashion Department Educating students and others about the ever-changing world of fashion design and merchandising. Thu, 13 Dec 2018 21:17:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 135513584 TA-DA! Tailoring Students Present Final Projects Thu, 13 Dec 2018 21:15:24 +0000 Smiles and laughter were in plentiful supply yesterday as students in the Tailoring classes (beginning and advanced) gave their final presentations. Students must show a completed jacket or coat that fits them perfectly and has a lining. Their projects frequently take all semester and sometimes 100 or more hours to complete, but the results are well worth the effort! See for yourself in the following photos:

Ashley models her red and black plaid jacket with a convertible collar/hood. The shearling lining will keep her cozy this winter!
Angela showed her burgundy shearling jacket, which featured some wow-worthy details!
Some of the extras on Angela’s jacket that make it really special.
Carol proclaimed her achievement completing this coat “a dream come true.”
Unusual buttons on Carol’s coat.
Dale is very pleased with her jacket, made in a striking red and custom-fit just for her.
Genna didn’t stop at a jacket but instead also made a skirt to create a complete suit.
Billy went as far as to create an entire tuxedo. Although the pants are still under construction, the jacket, vest and necktie (which matches the lining fabric) are completed and ready for a night at the opera.
Wei also made a suit, which features a jacket pocket designed specifically to accommodate her cell phone.
Susan’s coat has extra flair … literally!

If you are considering taking Tailoring with us, you’ll have to wait until next fall. In the meantime, Ronda will be very happy to answer any questions you may have. You can reach her at 650-306-3370.

Don’t see your project here? Don’t despair. You may find yourself in a future blog post, so stay tuned!

Give that baby a twirl, Susan!


Designer Techniques: The Next Level of Sewing Thu, 06 Dec 2018 18:46:00 +0000 The fashion department at Cañada offers classes for all skill levels, including Beginning Construction. For more advanced students who are ready to adapt existing designs and make them their own, we offer Designer Techniques—a class taught by our in-house expert Ronda Chaney, guest speakers and the students themselves!

Each week one or two students present a favorite sewing technique to their classmates.

Student Sherry asks her classmates if they’ve ever made a garment that wouldn’t fit over their heads. What can you do besides toss it out?
Sherry shows how she makes neck openings in the back of her tops, using a continuous placket finished with bias tape.

Guest speakers enhance the class, demonstrating the kinds of advanced methods they’ve used to make their garments special. This semester we were lucky to have four such guests: Christine Groom, Jennifer Neale, Dorothy Kaplan and Ellen Brook. Each one shared a very different perspective on how sewing brings them joy and how they personalize designs to make them uniquely theirs.

Dorothy Kaplan shows one of many garments she’s made special with her creative techniques.

Here are just a few of the skills you’ll learn when you take Designer Techniques:

Neckline with interlocking loops
Reverse appliqué

What would you teach your classmates in the Designer Techniques class or, if you’ve already taken the class, what skill did you teach? Please share in the comments.

Designer Techniques will be taught again in the fall of 2019.

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Street Style: Where Fashion Finds Inspiration Fri, 30 Nov 2018 00:39:10 +0000 When you think of fashion, glamorous runways may come to mind—complete with flashing cameras and impossibly long-limbed models. We could call this a “top-down” view, where big-name designers decide what the Next Big Thing is going to be. But fashion is as bottom-up as it is top-down, and the truth is that the zone in between is where a lot of the magic happens.

The big name designers won’t find next season’s I’ve-gotta-have-it looks from thin air; they need inspiration like the rest of us. Although their creative impulses could be sparked by almost anything, there’s no doubt that fashion innovators moving about in the “real world” have a big effect. That’s right—regular folks, who happen to have a particularly original sense of style.

Who would think to pair a casual t-shirt with those Gucci mules? This guy. Photo:

Since busy designers may not get out of their studios often, they will frequently pay forecasting companies to fill them in on what’s going on in street fashion. These companies have trend spotters on their teams whose job it is to seek out and document anonymous but intriguing fashionistas who are just going about their business. This information is fed back to the big fashion houses (for a small fortune), where the designers may find just the flash of an idea they need to build a new collection. (And, since all the fashion houses are subscribing to the same pricey reports, each has to hope the element that sparked their own concept is not the same one that prompted those of the others.)*

Some designers draw inspiration from the personal styles of their models. These young ladies are generally more well-traveled than most their age and, not surprisingly, are very fashion-conscious. This is precisely the kind of bottom-up creative flow that took place back in 1992, when an emerging Marc Jacobs was working to come up with a spring ready-to-wear collection for Perry Ellis. The supermodels of the day (big names in their own right) were coming into the studio wearing self-styled outfits inspired by the Seattle Grunge scene. Jacobs was inspired to develop a whole collection based around this unique brand of street style, which debuted in 1993 to a somewhat mystified industry, press and public. The fallout included Jacobs losing his job as creative director at Perry Ellis, but these same novel runway looks also established him as an undeniably innovative force in the fashion industry.

A youthful Kate Moss and Kristen McMenamy model two looks from the Sp93 Perry Ellis collection by Marc Jacobs. Photo: Condé Nast Archive

In a fascinating turn of events, those same looks are coming back by way of Jacobs’ own Resort collection next year. You can already see this encore performance here and the original runway shots here. Oh, and if some of the faces from Marc Jacobs Resort19 look eerily familiar, it’s probably because some of the models are the daughters of those who walked for Jacobs back in ’93! (It’s enough to make some of us feel really old.)

It’s déjà vu all over again with this Marc Jacobs look from his Resort 2019 collection. Photo:

Per fashion blogger Ainsley Louise “You don’t need to be famous to have a street style photo taken, it’s all about what you’re wearing and how you’ve styled it.” So the next time you head out the door, make sure you’re dressed for the fashion paparazzi. You may see your personal style on the runway sooner than you think!

*For more about trend spotting and fashion forecasting, see our post from July 2017 here.

Do you find yourself noticing looks on the runway that you saw first in your daily wanderings? (Hello, fanny packs worn cross-body.) Share an example in the comments.

Workshop Nurtures Creativity Thu, 15 Nov 2018 15:29:57 +0000 Creativity can be an elusive thing, yet it’s something we in fashion need to call on frequently. In the Designer Techniques class, for example, students are asked to go beyond what a pattern calls for and add their own clever touches. But what can you do when the ideas just aren’t there? Earlier this week the students in Ronda’s class got some guidance.

Artist Ellen Brook has developed a set of techniques for tapping into our creativity more easily. Ellen worked with the students to paint on silk and, in the process, explore new possibilities. “I wonder …” was the phrase she recommended for shifting into a mindset of curiosity. “I wonder what would happen if I painted with my nose,” Ellen offered as an example. Recognizing that this idea was a little silly, she explained that it might lead to a more reasonable option, like painting with a finger rather than a brush.

After the individual painting exercise, Ellen asked the students to reflect on the experience. “It was relaxing, meditative,” one student shared and “It was interesting to let time change [the work].” Ronda, who participated in the workshop right along with her students declared, “I found the freedom exciting!”

Later the class split into two teams that each worked on a larger piece. By doing so, the students were able to explore collaborative creativity, which can involve a different set of challenges from individual work.

Ellen has observed that the main barrier to creativity is usually our own thinking. She suggests noticing your feelings as you begin a creative process and any time you feel blocked. “Do I feel nervous? Fearful of judgment?” Just asking these questions and noticing can help break through the blocks, according to Ellen.

Here are some photos taken during the workshop:

What do you do when you hit a creative block? Please share in the comments.

Italian Fashion Quiz Thu, 08 Nov 2018 15:29:05 +0000 How well do you know Italian fashion design? Test your IQ (Italian fashion Quotient) below!

  1. What Italian designer is known for his use of bold reds?
  2. For what major Italian fashion house is Allesandro Michele currently the Creative Director?
  3. What 1980s TV show featured men’s clothing by Giorgio Armani?
  4. Pitti Uomo is a) a famous museum in Rome, b) a 200-year-old textile factory in Como, or c) men’s fashion week in Florence?
  5. What fashion house is known for its “zig-zag” knits?
  6. Dolce & Gabbana derives inspiration from what region of Italy? a) Tuscany, b) Sicily, or c) Milan?
  7. The house of Cavalli is best known for its designs in a) silk, b) wool, or c) leather?
  8. Who is known as “the prince of prints”?
  9. Miu Miu, known for its youthful designs, is a fully owned subsidiary of what major fashion house? a) Versace, b) Prada, or c) Gucci
  10. The province of Como is known for its long history of __________ production. Is it a) prosciutto, b) prosecco, or c) silk?
Emilio Pucci
Miuccia Bianchi Prada
Giorgio Armani
Allesandro Michele (Photo:
Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana


  1. Valentino
  2. Gucci
  3. Miami Vice
  4. c
  5. Missoni
  6. b
  7. c
  8. Emilio Pucci
  9. Prada
  10. c

How did you do?
0-3 correct: You could do with a little Italian fashion coaching. Now’s a great time to sign up for the study abroad course in Florence next summer.

4-6 correct: You’re on your way to being an Italian fashionista but could use some brushing up. Why not go to the source and join us in Italy?

7-10 correct: You’re a bit obsessed with Italian fashion, but that’s okay—so are we!!

Tell us how you did in the comments!

Halloween Costume Countdown Tue, 30 Oct 2018 21:46:47 +0000 ‘Twas the night before Halloween and through the whole school,
the students were asking, “A witch or a ghoul?”
For the minutes were ticking, the parties still pending,
the costumes not done yet, the options ne’er ending!

Sound scary? And a little too familiar? Don’t worry! With your creativity and sewing skills, 24 hours is more than enough time to create a great costume! Here are a few sources for ideas:

Vogue turns to the movies for inspiration with these 11 possibilities—all of which use clothes and accessories you may already have!

There’s no need to be Clueless about your costume. Check your closet and see what pieces you can put together to go as a character like Alicia Silverstone’s Cher from the 1995 classic. Photo: Everett Collection
Here is Vogue’s take on Cher’s best-known outfit. Photo:

Hello Giggles has 13 lucky ideas for you—pulled mostly from Instagram. Once again it’s likely you have some or all of the ingredients you need to cook up most of these concepts.

What could be easier than this Rosie the Riveter costume, modeled here by Instagrammer VanessaThat’sWho. We know you can do it!

It’s all about puns for Real Simple, which provides a whopping 22 silly—and easy-to-pull-off—concepts here.

Ghouls and goblins have been done to death (pun intended). Why not go for something that will really blow your friends away, like a ceiling fan? Photo: James Wojcik

Have a safe and fun time tomorrow, and please share your party pics on IG using the hashtag #canadafashionhalloween !

Angela Lan Models Girl Power at Festival Thu, 25 Oct 2018 15:44:30 +0000 The last time we checked in with Cañada fashion student Angela Lan was in early 2017, when her book #OOTD had just come out. The book features her designs, tailor-made for teens with style, including full-size patterns! Since then Angela has continued to promote her book through her blog and a long list of speaking engagements.

Angela promoting her book, #OOTD, which stands for Outfit of the Day. The book is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local independent bookseller.

Most recently Angela spoke at Worldwide Women’s Girls Festival at Santa Clara University. Nearly 3,000 girls from around the Bay Area attended the event to hear inspiring speakers; take part in fitness activities, business competitions, coding workshops and more. Here are a few highlights from the event in which Angela participated on a panel of other impressive young women, mentored girls in entrepreneurship and presented her most recent collection.

Angela told the audience that the most important part of running your own business is having a passion for what you do.
Girls had to wait in a long line to speak with Angela at her booth. She said the one-on-one interactions were fun, especially when girls told her which one of the patterns in her book was their favorite. Angela’s booth visitors could enter a raffle to win a private sewing lesson or a copy of her book.
Angela makes sure her model looks just right for the runway. She only had a week and a half to make her collection and was still sewing her finale piece the night before the show.
Angela (center) with her models, wearing her newest collection. Each design featured one of three prints she also designed and had custom printed, using her own photos of everyday objects. About the prints Angela says, “They’re really me.”
Photo: Matthew Carlson

What’s next for Angela? “Junior year [of high school] is a big year,” she explains. Besides all of the schoolwork, she needs to choose where she will go to college. “With so much going on,” Angela laments, “my blog is on the back burner.” We know you’ll do great in your studies, Angela, and will choose the right university for you. We can’t wait to see what your next achievement will be!

All that Glitters Thu, 18 Oct 2018 18:02:12 +0000 Metallics shine on spring 2019 runways

Is silver a color? How about gold or copper? According to Pantone, a company and color-matching system used across industries, there are 200 metallic colors. Pantone just released their Metallic Shimmers collection, which includes lustrous shades you are sure to see next spring in clothing, footwear, housewares, even electronics.

The Spring 2019 ready-to-wear runways featured a wide range of metallic looks. Here are a few highlights:

This arresting silver, fringed tunic combines movement with sparkle, making it truly unforgettable. Photo: Monica Feudi
Rather than an all-over metallic look, a single accent piece may be more your style. This 1960s-inspired gold brocade jacket adds an unexpected element to an otherwise casual ensemble from Michael Kors.
Metallics come in more shades than just gold, silver and bronze. Imagine any color in the rainbow—like bubble gum pink—then add lustre and a little sparkle, as seen in this upbeat number by Michael Kors.
The details on this stunning purple velvet dress by Ralph Lauren harken back to 18th century military uniforms that featured fine embroidery done with gold thread. Photo: Yannis Vlamos
Of course men can wear metallics too. Here a knock-out silver blazer by Givenchy. Which male stars will we see wearing this look on the red carpet next year? Photo: Monica Feudi.
Pants Problems? Pshaw! Thu, 11 Oct 2018 20:30:17 +0000 Pattern-designer Peggy Sagers may put her pants on one leg at a time, like the rest of us, but hers are likely to fit better. Founder of Silhouette Patterns, Peggy traveled all the way from Texas to give a pants-fitting presentation to dozens of eager Artistry in Fashion attendees … twice!

As usual for our department, class participation was not hard to draw out of the workshop attendees.

Peggy’s magic formula is “LCD”: Length, Circumference and Depth. She took us through each of these dimensions as she transformed each pant from wonky to wonderful!

Peggy demonstrates her “LCD” principles with help from two of our models.

Here you can see how she fit both a more tailored woven pant and a knit yoga pant during the workshop:

Peggy demonstrates how to add “hip darts” to help a pant drape more smoothly on the body. Of course you do this only on the muslin, then update the pattern before creating the final pant.
Peggy showed how you can apply the same technique to a fuller figure.

If you missed Peggy’s presentation, you can still see her pant-fitting tips in this video. Or, if you were there and want to learn more from Peggy, subscribe to her Youtube channel here.

Thank you to department assistant Holly Matsuo for making the pant muslins for the workshop!

Woven pant pattern here.

Yoga pant pattern here.


Alumna Returns after Distinguished Career Abroad Thu, 04 Oct 2018 14:30:50 +0000

Alison “Ali” Rasch started in the Cañada College fashion department in 1999—nearly 20 years ago. At the time she was a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School “ready to go to college.” She was interested in fashion design and managed to take courses at Cañada part-time while completing her high school diploma.

Ali remembers taking Beginning Clothing Construction with Ronda Chaney, which was “fantastic” and helped her hone her sewing skills. Ronda’s Introduction to the Fashion Industry also made a big impression. The field trips helped her “see how the whole process went” and also that fashion businesses could take many forms, not just “massive, global companies.” She also enrolled in Fashion Illustration with Kathleen McCarney, where she learned to sketch quickly and build her portfolio for school applications. She also studied fashion history with Judy Jackson.

All of this helped Ali get into Parsons in New York City a short time later. There she says “there were a lot of talented people and lots of homework, but it was all exciting.” She found that her experiences at Cañada helped a great deal. Specifically, “the construction and pattern making was a great basis to dive right in at Parsons and get to work.” After two years there, Ali transferred to Central St. Martins in London, where she earned a bachelor’s in Fashion Design, Women’s Wear. She also completed a minor in Industrial Studies through an internship.

Ali worked for a time with Raf Simons, now Chief Creative Officer at Calvin Klein. As she describes this rare opportunity:

“I worked … at his studio in Antwerp, Belgium from October 2003 through July 2004, two seasons of his men’s wear line. He was already getting a lot of interest. He showed his collection at men’s fashion week in Paris. It was a superb introduction to men’s wear and working in the fashion industry. I learned so much!”

Ali then moved back to New York, where she served for one year as an assistant designer at Karl Lagerfeld. Unfortunately Lagerfeld closed the New York studio, and Ali moved on to Vienna, Austria where she worked with designer Ute Ploier.

She moved back to California for a while, hoping to start a clothing business based in San Francisco. Ali and a few talented friends planned to make clothing for medical professionals out of sustainable fabrics; however, these types of textiles were hard to come by in 2008. An even bigger challenge turned out to be the Great Recession that broadsided us all that year. During this uncertain time Ali returned to Cañada and studied tailoring with Ronda. She recalls, “The familiar faces were nice, and the mix of students was exciting. Everyone is there for different reasons.”

In 2010 Ali went back to London to earn her master’s in fashion, specializing in men’s wear this time.

Today Ali has her own custom design business for men and women. Among her recent clients: a musician looking for specific pieces for his music videos and a filmmaker who needed wardrobe help. Now living in the larger Sacramento area, Ali is also hoping to teach fashion, something she is prepared to do having earned her teaching certificate while she was in London.

Does Ali have any advice for students in the fashion department now? “I recommend getting industry experience,” Ali encourages. Luckily for our students, Cañada offers an internship program! Learn more here.