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Jill Jeffrey with her dress designs

Fashion Design Teacher Jill Jeffrey Brings a Wealth of Entrepreneurial Experience to Her Students

Educator Jill Jeffrey has taught fashion for fourteen years and was a fashion designer, entrepreneur, corporate trainer, and business owner prior to becoming an instructor. “She teaches very advanced skills to her fashion students, and it shows in their incredible design work, “ says FIDM College Representative Kelli Attaway. Jeffrey has been an instructor at Mesquite High School in Mesquite, Texas, for the past three years. Her classes include Fashion Design Level 1, Advanced Fashion Level 2, Practicum Fashion, and Fashion Marketing.

After receiving her first sewing machine, an avocado green Singer, at age six, Jeffrey spent hours making Barbie doll clothes and eventually she and her mom made and sold Cabbage Patch doll clothes to a local store where they flew off the shelves. Later on, as a mother herself, she began making leotards for her gymnast daughter. This led to the co-creation of a leotard collection sold in shops across California. Her teaching experience has also been shaped by her seventeen-year career as an instructional designer for the high-tech industry.

Jeffrey’s teaching style is demonstration and project-based and she says that the pandemic surprisingly impacted the way she teaches for the better. She explains, “During COVID my challenge was I couldn’t be close to my students to demonstrate. We had to be socially distant. I began making step-by-step videos on how to complete the class projects and uploaded them to Google classroom. I was amazed and shocked! It worked! The majority of my student’s projects were turning out just as good as mine. Each student had me virtually by their side explaining each step. They could rewind and replay if they needed to.”

“I was in awe of the student work I saw while presenting in her classes,” says Attaway. In her Practicum Fashion Level 3 course, students design a four-piece collection and make one piece from their collection. They build a portfolio that consists of sketches and fabric selections for each sketch, they create a company name and logo, design their label, research their target market, and cost out their collection pieces. They then create a trend board and present their collection to fictitious buyers. Jeffrey’s class projects also include designing and making a formal dress on a ½ scale dress form. This year, her Practicum Fashion Students did a manufacturing project to earn money for competition expenses. They sold and made over 140 bags, bringing in over $2,000. Students also entered five projects in the FCCLA Fashion Construction Competition. Next year’s Practicum Fashion students will create and manufacture products and run a pop-up shop.

Design cut outs

Jeffrey is constantly changing and evolving her curriculum to keep it fresh and exciting, and she has taken two different groups of her students to Los Angeles from Texas to attend FIDM’s open house and Debut Runway Show.

Learn more about FIDM's Debut Runway Show.