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Shricker Johnson aligns a piece of material on a sewing machine in the Fashion Technology program at Hinds Community College's Utica Campus. Johnson is a first-year student in the program. (April Garon/Hinds Community College)

Students gain fashion sense and jobs with Utica program


The Clothing and Fashion Design technical program at Hinds Community College’s Utica Campus is helping students achieve personal and employment goals. Program participants learn to create fashions for themselves and family members while preparing to enter the work force.

The Clothing and Fashion Design program was originally started in 1969 under the name of Clothing and Textile at Utica Junior College which merged with Hinds Community College. After 45 years under the old program title, the programs name was changed in 2014 to Clothing and Fashion Design and remained at the Utica Campus.

Shricker Johnson entered the program because of her daughters. She says finding the latest fashions at the right prices had to become a talent when her children developed their own tastes in clothes.“I have two daughters, and my youngest one is a diva with clothes and everything,” said the Crystal Springs native and first-year student in the program.

In the program, Johnson is blending her desire to continue her education with her creative eye in the hopes she can make a better living for her family.

“The program offers experienced faculty and small class sizes that prepare students for successful employment in clothing, textiles and fashion design fields,” said District Director of Enrollment Kathryn Cole. “This program includes instruction and training in construction, fabric design, pattern design, principles of construction, fitting and alterations, custom tailoring, home furnishings and textiles testing.”

According to Dr. Curtis Gore, the Utica Campus’ program director, construction, alteration, tailoring and equipment use and care were retained in the course content after the name change. “The new program focuses more on the concept of fashion design as it relates to the fashion industry today, such as fashion designing and helping the students to develop and market their ideas into a fashion apparel,” he said. “The new program helps students find a career in fashion designing, modeling, operating a boutique store or alteration shop, store buyer, window displayer, interior designing and more.

“There will always be a demand for individuals who have a skill in this area. Fashion plays a big part in our lives professionally and socially. People will always require someone to turn their fashion ideas into reality and to set the trend for fashion apparel worn.”

Students are taught to use and master the following equipment: industrial straight stitch machine, industrial serger and domestic serger. monogramming machine, domestic sewing machine and other tools needed to do a professional job. “Those machines are computerized, so they have different types of stitch settings,” said Gore, a 20-year clothing designer featured in more than 100 fashion shows in the South. “If you wanted to do some embroidering, say the cuff on your shirt, it has patterns ready once you log into the machine. You can also use a jump drive to download certain images and patterns you want to do. Today’s machines are faster and more versatile.”

Students in the program begin with the basics and work up to mastering the modern-day machines used in large-scale manufacturing outfits.“We start off with garment construction, where we help students use the equipment in the classroom, mainly the sewing machines,” Gore said. “In the tailoring class, students learn to tailor garments to the body, working with linings and things like that.”

The expansive fashion program prepares home tailors, crafters, novice sewers and every other kind of student in between with comprehensive coursework on the latest in sewing and embroidering technology.

For a final grade, all students are required to make a garment that has been approved by the instructor for completing the course with a passing grade. For entrepreneurs-in-waiting such as Shricker Johnson, it’s a chance to show off some practicality. Her final exam in the class was a turquoise polyester show-stopper of a dress tailored for her older daughter’s senior prom.

“The class shows me how I can transform a shirt I might see on sale somewhere for $40 or $50 into what I really want,” Johnson said. “You can get some fabric of your own and make a top-notch shirt – a shirt of your dreams that won’t look cheap and that nobody else has.”

The fashion program is one of 14 career-technical programs offered at the Utica Campus. With certificates in hand upon completion of the program, students can take their skills to the workforce – fabric stores, alterations companies and manufacturing plants, to name a few.


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