May 21, 2022


Making living better

‘Project Runway’ Alum Teaches Classes In Brookfield

3 min read

BROOKFIELD, CT — A television celebrity has set up shop at the unlikeliest of places in Brookfield.

Sam Donovan competed on “Project Runway: Under the Gunn,” where he placed second. While designing menswear for Macy’s, he returned to the TV fashion design franchise as one of the “Project Runway: All-Stars.” Now he’s teaching Brookfield residents the tricks of Seventh Avenue at Cotton Candy Fabrics on Federal Road, as the director of Garment Sewing for the fabric and quilt shop.

Donovan said he began corresponding with Cotton Candy Fabrics owner Erin Byrne on a “Project Runway” message board. He had just started teaching full time at CATS Academy in Boston when Byrne reached out to see if he was interested in teaching a class at her store.

He was, and “It went amazingly,” Donovan told Patch. “After that, we kept wanting to work together.”

When the store began upgrading its classroom facilities earlier this year, Byrne created the new position and offered it to Donovan, who accepted. Now he teaches classes in apparel sewing and fashion design, and curates fabric, notions and patterns for the shop’s inventory.

Newbie Brookfield clothiers and fashion designers should not be intimidated by TV celebrities with highfalutin’ titles, Donovan said. His classes are intended “for anybody who likes to wear clothes.”

“I have worked with people who have been sewing throughout their life, and have also taught people who picked up the weekend before,” the Parsons School of Design alumnus said. “I’m happy to work with any skill set. I think it’s exciting to see where people’s strengths are, where they can still improve. When it comes to sewing, everyone still has room to learn. I still have room to learn, as a teacher.”

Sewing has enjoyed a boom these past two years, as coronavirus shut-ins have taken to making their own duds.

“During the pandemic, people began taking stock of where they were spending their free time, and how they were spending it,” Donovan said. Sewing added a creative outlet to the lives of many people spending their weekends looking at a screen, and for that reason, he doesn’t see interest in the darning arts waning along with the virus.

In his work at the high school-aged CATS Academy, Donovan said he has seen interest skewing younger and younger: “If anything, sewing is going to keep growing.”

Donovan preaches a “zero waste” approach to sewing. He said the ethic comes from his days studying at Parsons. In addition to the stitchery witchery they expect, his students learn on how to minimize wasting material when cutting out patterns, and the best ecological end for the scraps that don’t quite make it into the garment.

The big picture has to do with minimizing the degrees of separation between the maker of a garment and the person who wears it. The more people going to the trouble of sewing their own garments, the less clothing people consume, he reasons.

Donovan said he is in the process of expanding the apparel area at Cotton Candy, acquiring the materials for outerwear, knit wear, and summer dresses. He is also looking into teaching “prom workshops” for high school age sewers.

In the meantime, Donovan said he has plans to push away at the shop’s envelopes and “start offering things that are a little more niche.” His ideal fabrics, like his favorite sewing projects, are “incredibly easy to wear, have a soft geometry to them … the eye kind of dances around the visual texture.”

Cotton Candy Fabrics is located at 457 Federal Road. The full calendar of Donovan’s classes there has not yet been finalized and will be published on the shop’s website as dates are finalized

This article originally appeared on the Brookfield Patch | Newsphere by AF themes.