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A Beginner’s Guide to Fashion Design

Explore the basics of fashion design and examine fashion in context, fashion as a visual language, and textile and colour choice.

Two models walk a catwalk wearing colourful garments.

Develop your design skills from fashion sketches to fabric choices

From haute couture to high-street fashion, all clothing is underpinned by the basic principles of fashion design.

On this three-week course, you’ll be introduced to these concepts and develop your own fashion design skills in preparation for a future in the fashion industry.

Examine fashion in context, from the history of fashion to its cultural impact around the world

A contextual understanding of fashion allows designers to identify influences and predict upcoming trends.

On this course, you’ll delve into the history of fashion and learn how cultural movements and ideas around the world impact the fashion world.

With this knowledge, you’ll be able to place fashion movements in a wider cultural context and draw on a wide array of inspiration for your own designs.

Discover the fundamentals of fashion drawing

Fashion drawing skills are vital to turn your design ideas into a reality, whether you work by hand or with digital technology.

You’ll learn how to sketch the fashion figure and develop your technical skills from line drawing to creating gestures and poses.

By developing your artistic skills, you’ll be able to create sketches that showcase the fit and movement of your designs.

Explore textile design, from choosing a colour to sustainable fabrics

Color and fabric choice can completely alter a design’s feel and seasonal suitability.

You’ll examine the principles of colour theory and identify the relationships between different colour schemes. You’ll also delve into the diverse array of textiles available and learn how fashion sustainability can impact fabric choices.

By the end of this course, you’ll have gained a foundational knowledge of fashion design. You’ll be able to draw fashion figures and be able to choose colours and fabrics to compliment your designs.


  • Week 1

    Fashion in context

    • Course welcome

      In this activity, you will be introduced to the content that will be covered during this course. You will also get an overview of the topics covered during the first week of this course.

    • Introducing fashion

      A brief introduction to fashion and all that it entails. We aim to get a better understanding of fashion, and how fashion can be an agent of change. We further explore fashion design, gender and the body.

    • Fashion over time

      In this activity we explore the historical timeline of fashion as well as discuss orientalism. We further take a deeper dive into fashion and modernism, post modernism and deconstruction.

    • Fashion and the world

      In this activity, we take a closer look at fashion and the world by exploring the supply chain, sustainability, fashion capitals and cultural currency. We further discuss fashion identities and modest fashion.

    • Fashion as communication

      The phrase ‘making a statement is often used by fashion designers and in this activity, we explore the power of fashion as a communication medium. We also take a look at fashion and social media and the subcultures that exist.

    • Week wrap up

      In this activity, you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge of the topics covered during the week. You will also be provided with a summary of the week's learning, and some insight on what to expect in the new week.

  • Week 2

    The visual language of fashion

    • Weekly welcome

      Moving into the second week of this course, this activity will give you an overview of the topics that will be covered during this week.

    • The fashion figure

      In this activity, we explore the fashion figure and learn about figurative drawing and the compositional balance, flow and line quality of drawings.

    • Drawings in fashion

      In this activity, you will learn more about the fashion figure, developing poses and gestures in figurative fashion drawings, and the impact of various human features used to create varying appearances.

    • The male fashion figure and drawings

      In this activity, you will focus on anatomical differences between men and women, and the main approach to consider when drawing the male fashion figure.

    • Technical drawings: Flats, CAD and illustration

      In this activity, you will learn about the use of different kinds of technical drawings used in fashion design, including flats, CAD and illutstrations.

    • Week wrap up

      In this activity, you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge of the topics covered during the week. You will also be provided with a summary of the week's learning, and some insight on what to expect in the new week.

  • Week 3

    Color and fabrics

    • Weekly welcome

      Moving into the third week of this course, this activity will give you an overview of the topics that will be covered during this week.

    • Color theory, schemes and palettes

      Color is a critical element in fashion design and can arouse an emotional response from the wearer and the viewer, and in this activity, you will explore the versatility of the use of color in fashion.

    • Prints, forecasting and fabric selection

      In this activity, you will learn how print can offer definition or impact to a design, time-sensitive considerations of seasonal palettes, and color forecasting, and the importance of finding and choosing the right fabrics.

    • Fibres and fabric

      In this activity, you learn more about the classification of fibers relating to their origin, length, and dimensions, as well as the size of fibers used in fashion design.

    • Fabrics and finishes

      You will learn that there is a wide range of fabrics and finishes available to fashion designers, and the secret to good design practice is fabric awareness.

    • Sustainability in fabrics

      In this activity, you explore the importance of maintaining sustainability by exposing key issues associated with ‘sustainability’ as part of your design studies.

    • Course wrap up

      In this activity, you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge of the topics covered during the week. You will also be provided with a summary of the week's learning, and some insight into other courses in this series.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the multifaceted nature of fashion
  • Assess contextual perspectives and theoretical debates that critically inform fashion design
  • Identify the visual language of fashion design that offers diverse aesthetic viewpoints and introduces the fashion figure
  • Explain the role of communicating ideas by hand and in digital formats
  • Evaluate the role of color in fashion design and fashion’s close association with material culture through tactile processes
  • Create a portfolio of work in professional practice, in the international fashion industry context

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone with an interest in the basics of fashion design. It would be suitable for those considering a career in fashion and anyone wanting to develop a portfolio of design work.

Who developed the course?

Bloomsbury Publishing

Bloomsbury Publishing is a leading independent publishing house, established in 1986, with authors who have won the Nobel, Pulitzer and Booker Prizes.and is the originating publisher and custodian of the Harry Potter series. Bloomsbury has offices in London, New York, New Delhi, Oxford and Sydney. Within Bloomsbury’s Academic division, it publishes under Bloomsbury, as well as under a number of prestigious and historic imprint names.


FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform and has been providing high quality online courses for learners around the world over the last ten years.

What's included?

This is a premium course. These courses are designed for professionals from specific industries looking to learn with a smaller group of like-minded individuals.

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime

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Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
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Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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