Rethinking Soft Goods Design Education
According to Merriam-Webster (2017), soft goods are items that are not durable, ones made of textile products. For most of us, when we think of soft goods, we think of sewn items like apparel. In the past, professors relied on students learning basic soft goods/sewing skills from their parents, in home economics classes or through clubs like 4H. From there, those basic skills were enhanced during the students' university design educational experience. However, today's university students are entering without any skills, due to the decline of learning opportunities. Students have no fundamental context regarding soft goods. They do not understand grain lines, seam allowances or notches. For university programs that do offer general soft goods/sewing courses, they tend to be apparel-based and restrained in content. Students typically learn to make small seam samples and an apparel item from commercial patterns or ones that the professor provides. This pedagogical method is outdated, because students are not taught how to work with a variety of materials, machines or learn how patterns are derived. This method also neglects teaching students about other soft goods products like footwear, automobile and furniture upholstery, sports equipment and wearables. The modern-day design student needs a new approach, so they can acquire a solid foundation of soft goods skills to be successful in their field of study. By considering all of the design majors that may need to learn this information, a new pedagogical model was created for a 10-week (quarter system), 2-credit course in soft goods design.