A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Designer for a Day

Preteens design a food-themed final runway show at SAIC’s fashion camp

by Amanda Ellison (MA 2018)

Student designs from SAIC’s 2017 "Intro to Fashion" middle school summer camp

“I haven’t done a lot of sewing, [but] I do a lot of designing, a lot of sketching; they’re all up on my wall,” explains Bryce Ferrall, one of the middle schoolers in SAIC’s Intro to Fashion summer camp. After two weeks of cultivating ideas from pencil sketch to finished garment, the students line up eagerly along the SAIC

Ballroom staircase, ready to model their designs in a food-themed capstone fashion show on August 17. From watermelon gowns to scaly fish pantsuits, the creations of the budding designers present a dazzling array of shapes, colors, and textures to an audience of family members who, with cameras ready, anxiously wait for their young designer’s creation to appear. 



Guided by instructors Naava Weiner (MFA 2014) and Shonna Pryor (MFA 2012), the campers learn different patternmaking methods, workshop ways that fabric can be manipulated for dramatic effect, and learn to approach fashion conceptually. Students are encouraged to “think about fashion as sculpture and sculpture as an act of translation,” explains Weiner.

Student designs from SAIC’s 2017 Intro to Fashion middle school summer camp

While Ferrall’s muslin highwaisted pant and sleeveless top ensemble do not immediately resemble fish, subtle pleating creates an elegant effect of fish scales on the top and a fish tail at the back of the pant, showing her creative take on the theme. Raine Williams, who produced a lollipop-inspired final look, says the course gave her a chance to “let [her] creative energy flow.” She’s known for making accessories and trinkets for friends, but now—armed with the basics she’s picked up from camp—she has another outlet for all that creativity, and she’s eager to keep at it on her home sewing machine. Weiner, who teaches the course year-round, says that she is, “continually, delightfully surprised with how much [students] can put together and how good it truly is.” The students get to try on more than just their own designs as they find out what it’s like to be fashion designer for a day.


Continuing Studies middle school programs for preteens (ages 10–13) offer a rigorous investigation into art and design materials, techniques, and ideas. See our current offerings for youth (ages 4–13), high school students, and adults at saic.edu/cs