Tobie Blanchard | 3/14/2018 7:18:12 PM
Donna Sapp once had on her own clothing line. She has 28 years of teaching experience in higher education and headed up the fashion department at the Art Institute of Dallas. Sapp now brings her expertise and passion for apparel design to the LSU College of Agriculture Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising.
"Sewing and apparel construction are my true love," said Sapp, who was hired in July 2017 as an instructor and the department’s undergraduate coordinator.
She taught two classes during her first semester with LSU: a beginning apparel structure and fit class aimed at getting sophomores familiar with sewing techniques and a new class focused on fashion trends for the merchandising students.
This semester she is teaching the second part of the apparel structure and fit class, which is a new course. In the previous class, students tackled simple sewing projects such as an A-line skirt. This year they will work on tailored blouses, use knit fabrics and make a lined blazer with a notched label, bound button holes and welt pockets.
Sapp said the students will leave the class ready for advanced sewing techniques they will encounter in upper level classes.
“What thrills me is seeing them excited in what they are doing,” she said.
Sapp became interested in sewing at an early age but would often give the handwork to her mother. At the time she didn’t realize how much she would grow to love handwork such as embroidery, beading and lace work.
“It’s like therapy. It makes me happy,” she said.
Sapp’s role as undergraduate advisor puts her in contact with many students in the department. She helps the students with scheduling and setting them on the right path.
“This gives me an opportunity to meet students outside of the classroom and to get to know them better,” she said.
Sapp, who also serves as the textiles, apparel and merchandising advisor for freshmen living in the Agriculture Residential College, describes the LSU students as disciplined and eager.
Students at the residential college participate in monthly track days according to their major. Sapp helps organize these days, which allow students to delve into their program of study. These additional responsibilities have given her a good outlook on campus that she said she wouldn’t get if she were just in the classroom.
Sapp is impressed with the innovation in the department, such as the recently acquired a digital printer that prints on fabric.
“Students can create a pattern, design the fabric and then make the garment, so it’s all their design,” she said.
Students have the option to design and print their fabric with an all-over repeating pattern or an engineered print that will fit specifically within a pattern piece.
The printer is part of department’s new technology hub, which also includes a 4-D body scanner and a 3-D printer. The body scanner can record 400 measurements on an individual in a matter of minutes. The scanner can help custom fit clothing and is used for research on body sizes.
The department is developing plans to use the 3-D printer to create accessories.
“I am excited about what this means for students and their creativity and the experience they can put on their resumes,” Sapp said.
Tobie Blanchard is the assistant director of LSU AgCenter Communications and the communication coordinator of the LSU College of Agriculture.
(This article appears in the winter 2018 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
Donna Sapp, right, an instructor in the Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising, works with sophomore Destiny Davis on her garment. Photo by Tobie Blanchard