Introduction to Apparel course: Geometry of Form

Introduction to Apparel: Material + Form

Clothing stands at the center of human experience in function and cultural and individual identity. In this course students broaden individual understanding of both material properties and the essential elements of fashion design. The course begins with an introduction to historical and contemporary practices in the advancement of clothing. Students then receive foundational instruction in apparel design techniques, including: design process, pattern making, draping, construction and sewing (industrial machine and hand). Exploration of materials, construction techniques and experimental draping on the dress form are achieved through using geometric shapes (rectangles, squares, circles and triangles). Lectures and discussions on issues of waste and garment life-cycle, fast fashion and production methods underscore the importance of best practices in sustainability for students to consider in their own process. Development of a strong personal vision through weekly critiques and discussions allows students to build a comprehensive sketchbook/scrapbook, and to create a working sample collection of construction techniques that support ideas for a final collection of finished garments. Previous sewing experience not required.

Students exhibit their final collection at Open Studios held 4–6 pm on the final day of class.

Course #1307
Maha Barsom

Schedule B
June 25–July 31, 2020
Thursdays + Fridays
9 am–4:30 pm (no class 7/3)

Tuition $2,975
Tuition for RISD Alumni and Students $2,380

3 Credits


Maha Barsom

Maha Barsom’s road to fashion design began at age eight, when she began constructing dolls from fabric and designing clothes for them. She began designing and making her own clothes at a young age, striving to make each design better than the last. Barsom studied business and taught economics and accounting for several years, but her passion for design turned her focus to fashion once again. She honed her skills at RISD and studied apparel design and haute couture in Paris. In 2006, Barsom’s business and fashion talents coalesced when she launched her signature line of luxurious shirts and blouses for women and opened a boutique on Boston’s fashionable Newbury Street. Barsom has been teaching apparel design at RISD since 2002, sharing her knowledge while inspiring and encouraging the next generation of fashion designers.