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Inside Apparel Design: Making a Bomber Jacket

Apparel design student Rachel Crane let me follow her in the process of constructing a bomber jacket from scratch.  From moments of doubt to moments of success, her experience in the Seattle Central Apparel Design and Development program has been one that won’t leave her for the rest of her life.

Crane planned to go to the Seattle Central College Apparel Design and Development program with still two years left in high school. She says she never really felt good at anything else but was always an artistic person.

She enrolled in the prerequisites after attending an introduction to the program.

“In the beginning, I was second guessing it but I continued doing the prereqs, I failed one of my first prereqs and then I took it again.” Says Crane.

“I know this sounds…[bad] but I thought how hard could this program really be? It’s only community college.” Her thoughts on it soon changed, in fact, it only took one day of being in it for that to happen. She says this program is the real deal. If you’re considering it, you will really get a “bang for your buck” and have what it takes to be a pro in the industry.

“In the first quarter, the first week, of me actually being in the program, I was like holy shit, what have I done?” Says Crane while almost laughing at her past. “This program is like a lifestyle. Your life changes from having free time and being able to be with friends and think about other things to BOOM this, where you can’t have friends and can’t work.”

The program brought challenges, a whole new future and so many hidden benefits along the way. Since the beginning, Crane has gotten used to the strictness of the program and all of its time commitment. She told me about her schedule, she is at school every single day except Fridays and Saturdays from nine to eight just working. With the time she has outside of that she is completing homework assigned by the school.

“If you turn anything in late right away there is 2.0 off your grade right away. It is very strict but it is really just teaching you how to be on your shit.” Says Crane. The design program at SCC may be more technical and demanding than other schools like Parsons that students go to for apparel design, but Crane says she feels more prepared for her future career path because of the program’s difficulty. “Even out in the industry there are people that have to work more than 60 hours a week, they are just trying to teach me that this is how it will be out in the corporate world.” Says Crane.

“In high school, I didn’t really push myself so it was cool to see that I could in this program.” Said Crane.

The design program is unique because so much of the learning doesn’t come from the teacher but from student to student collaborations with the instructors acting as guides.

“Yes, the teachers are there to teach us but the people I’m in the program with are more important to me. If I need help I don’t ask a teacher, I ask my classmates. With everyone in the program, we all have those days where we are like ‘Fuck, this sucks, our lives suck’ and we are crying, stressed and drained emotionally. But we all believe in each other and say ‘We can do it’. They are all with it and try as hard as they possibly can.” Says Crane.

“When you’re in it, you’re in it.”


Of the huge amount of learning in her first year of the program, her proudest moment was making the Bomber jacket. While reflecting on the project she said, “It was hard because I had so many other things going on with school but still I got a 90% on it and I was so happy about it, I wanted to cry.”

“I am definitely going to make more this summer. It was one of the easiest projects, I sewed it all up in two days. After I had finished the pockets it sort of flowed. The pockets were the hardest part for me. It was an eight-step pocket. Those pockets took me literally four hours to do but after that, it sort of just flew by.” Says Crane.

When asked about her style and inspirations, the color orange came up a few times. So did Alexander McQueen, darkness, people watching and pain. “There are some really funny and weird people out there. I like looking at the things they do and the things they wear.” Says Crane.

Crane’s experience while thrift shopping has changed because of all she has learned in the apparel design program, “when I go to Value Village I see things that I want to take from and add to something else when I am cutting up my clothes and things like that. Now when I go to thrift shops I find myself always looking at the seams and the quality of the stitching. It is so awful. I never used to be like that but the program turned me into this person,” she laughs. “You wouldn’t think that there are some really badly made things out there. I couldn’t believe that I had never seen that before. I can tell if something is homemade, but I couldn’t have done that before.”

The hardest thing Crane continues to come across in apparel design is choosing a fabric. But she is looking forward to her spare time this summer where she will be making and selling custom bomber jackets, so hit her up if you’re interested!

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