Design as a force for good

design students with garments they designed for the girls of Blue House Uganda

This fall, students in College of Design Professor Lucy Dunne’s technical apparel design studio course took on a creative challenge: to design—and deliver—new garments for vulnerable girls in Uganda.

With a focus on teaching students about clothing production, Dunne’s course takes them through the entire product design process, from concept to final product.

“A lot of our students come in thinking that they would like to have their own line. If they were to start from the ground up, this class shows them exactly what they would be doing,” says Dunne.

As in past years, the students are designing garments for the children of Blue House Uganda—a small, all girls orphanage in rural Uganda—using sketches created by the Blue House girls themselves.

“When we began this unit, Dr. Dunne told us that the Blue House girls are always very excited to receive the clothing our program sends them because it is the only new clothes they ever receive,” says student Rachel Katz. “This idea stuck with me throughout the semester and probably will for a lifetime.”

Sewing and clothing design is a career option that girls at Blue House Uganda are encouraged to pursue.

By showcasing the transition from a rough sketch to a finished product, Dunne’s class teaches the girls about jobs and skills in the apparel industry.

“The course really pushes students to expand their knowledge of what designers do and how design and the garment industry can be a force for good in the world,” says Dunne.

“I am extremely proud of the work my whole class did,” says Katz. “They [Blue House] sent us drawings of their ideal dresses to receive from us, and we took those as heavy inspiration for our own designs. ... I think they all turned out really cute.”

Undergraduate Maxine Britt says that her favorite part of the experience was seeing her classmate’s final products.

“It really brought the project to life to feel how heavy the box full of all of the clothes we made was and to hope that the clothes we were sending off would really make a positive impact in someone's life,” says Britt.


This story appeared in original form at the College of Design blog. Funding for the materials and shipping costs was made possible through the support of alumni and friends of the College of Design, as well as an online crowdfunding effort.