YOU are Invited

Pattern & Production Engineering in High Fashion Design

Creativity, Fun & Success with the Technical

Hosted by Shirley Willett (Fashion Designer, Educator, Engineer, & Organizer) * See more:

Elements to be covered include:

1. Mass production solutions in 3D and 4D for creativity and quality

2. Creative 3D solutions in fashion design and engineering

3. Creating your fabric

  1. 4.Designing for consumers

Thursday, August 25, 2016, 6:00 PM,  FREE to attend.

The Charlesmark at Copley  655 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

Networking starting at 6pm: Bring your business cards! Seminar starting at 6:30pm: Five experts in the field will present their designs and share their knowledge of the technical side of creation in the high fashion industry. Old world techniques work in collaboration with modern technology to achieve impeccable results.














The mentor¬-apprentice relationship, which was so crucial to the transference of these very specialized skills, has been lost to fashion design education. BDL is dedicated to the mentoring of Boston's young designers by empowering them with the Stylometrics system, enabling them to profitably produce their own couture designs on any scale, and settingup collaborations for business success.

Boston Fashion Week Ladder Award (below) was presented to Shirley in collaboration with Fashion Group International for her work in helping many young designers climb the ladder, through BDL, her work as Organizer for the Boston Fashion Industry Meetup Group, and a business consultant for the Center for Women & Enterprise

September 29, 2006
My Successful Chemise, 1957, Fad to Present Market Theory

In 1957, when working as a designer for a moderate dress house in Boston, I was inspired by the famous Balenciaga's "chemise" dress, and designed my own unique version with a bow on the back, for me to wear. It is a great story I have told hundreds of times since - "How fads are created, die, and sometimes reincarnated with a new name or form."



Read more....

                                     Sunday, September 24, 2006
My Famous Suede Evening Gown, 1971

This gown, in a very soft lambskin suede, has probably become the greatest highlight of my career: as a creative haute couture design, as an elegant FASHION SOLUTION IN ENGINEERING DESIGN and PRODUCTION, and as a very financially successful fashion business product. As you can see. I am most proud of the engineering design solution, and it has a fascinating story that has helped many young designers in recent years through mentoring them. ... Read more

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Over the past 25 years since I sold my high fashion design & manufacturing business, I taught occasionally some evening classes in fashion, one called “Fashion As A Business”, & another “Fashion/Pattern Design”, Most students were women in their 30s & 40s, who had gone to work after college in fields such as real estate, computers, administration, education, biology & health ­ none of which tapped their human ability & NEED TO CREATE. Fashion clothing & crafts offered them this opportunity, .... There are so very few that have learned these skills in engineering, or that want to sell for any beginners’ fashions. However, a few over the years have been persistent and realized they can learn & CREATE the technical & engineering solutions for their own creative designs. Some of these have become my protégés, and I’m very proud of them. .... Read more

Friday, September 15, 2006
I. ENGINEERING DESIGN, 2. Improving Engineering Education

.... The National Center for Technology Literacy (NCTL) at the Museum of Science is designed to work with educators, government and industry leadersTO INTEGRATE ENGINEERING AS A NEW DISCIPLINE AS EARLY AS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL and continue it through high school, college and beyond.” ... “Engineering education has become too specialized É graduates can’t see the big picture. [And] American students are shifting away from engineering.” From my experiences for a decade working on engineering design grants in fashion from the National Science Foundation, I learned that these are some sad truths. I am attending the forum to offer to play a part repeating some creative seminars I did in the 1990s, “HAT ENGINEERING PROJECT” for 140 seventh grade students , and later 40 third grade students. The motivation for math and geometry to understand the 2-D & 3-D translations in pattern engineering of hats - was amazing! ..... Read more 

Thursday, September 14, 2006
I. ENGINEERING DESIGN: A. American Culture; 1. Engineering design in the fashion industry.

As we become more global and multicultural, we learn about all the cultures of the world. I asked what is America's culture? We have given many things to the world, but I believe they all boil down to fundamentally two concepts: ENGINEERING and CAPITALISM. My simple definition of engineering is “the planning for building or producing a product or a system”. Designing by itself is “the planning for the realization of an idea, whether an original idea or the implementation of an existing idea.” Together, engineering design, involves the planning, building or producing of an innovative idea into a product or a system, within specific industries. The fashion clothing industry has undergone both revolutionary and evolutionary changes in the 19th and 20th centuries. I would call every beginning of each part of the industry, engineering design. ....... read more


        A panorama of some of my fifty years of vintage collections. The 7th, polka dots, is me at 25.

           Also I will gradually have larger photos of each in an album.

How Do You “Make It “ In Fashion Design?

           Be a part of writing a special book. You learn fashion design and pattern making free online from Shirley Willett, a well- known industry expert in creative design, pattern engineering and manufacturing.

Blog:            Website:

            We learn by cooperation and begin with Foundation Design Skills needed in many industries, automobiles, aerospace, architecture, and fashion clothing. They relate to the making of a creative product, are easily achieved, and make learning and designing fun and rewarding. Then we advance to specific fashion skills in depth: Templates, Pattern manipulation, Draping, Truing, Sleeves, Collars, etc.

S. Willett Logo


Why a book? Shirley Willett answers:

After selling my high fashion design & manufacturing business in the early 80s, I went back to teaching and wanted to share the knowledge and expertise from experiences. I wrote a book, “Let’s Design A Dress”. It had to be taken off the market after using some of its innovations in three engineering design grant awards from the National Science Foundation.

Throughout these years I mentored many protégés, some of whom have been very successful. I discovered that certain approaches to fashion and technical design are needed to make it, but are not taught in fashion schools and colleges – leading to another book idea.

        The book will be cooperation with protégés, designers, consumers, and even beginners (who sew). To those of you especially who would like to become designers, possible protégés, & better consumers, please become a part of producing our exciting, authentic book.

How do you start?

First, email and subscribe to postings of lessons, to be sure you get each posting as they are created. Each post will be a lesson, with the first five being the FDS (Fundamental Design Skills). You can respond by email to with questions and comments, and let us know if there is anything more that could help you with learning on this particular lesson. If you send pictures, it is best by email. If a reply needs pictures and will be good for others as well, it will go into the book with your name (if you choose). If it is more personal and no pictures are needed we will reply to you personally. If personal and requires pictures in the explanation, we will charge a small fee to develop them specifically for you.

       We look forward to some great teamwork on the book. Eventually we can work together to develop your ideas into beautiful, producible, marketable styles at affordable prices – as the book is written.


About Boston Design Laboratory
Boston Design Laboratory founder Shirley Willett has developed a new production pattern system called Stylometrics, which makes possible the efficient production of haute couture designs. Her experience reaches back a lifetime to when she worked as a stitcher in the very first apparel factories where European Jews and other skilled old-world tailors of Boston were using the world's first production patterns. She took this knowledge into her own couture manufacturing, selling to top stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bonwit Tellers, etc. Today she consults with many in fashion businesses.