Story by Leslie AdamiPhotos by Gina Cara
Jackie Ramirez’s tiny hands guide pink fabric through an eager sewing machine — her fingers only millimeters away from the punching needle.
“It’s like my getaway, you know?” Ramirez, a textile and apparel sophomore, says as her fingers continue to push fabric through the machine.
Sprawled across her bed lie some of her other creations — ranging from nautical-themed, high-waisted pants to bohemian crop tops. “I started off with very little to basic sewing skills, but if you have great opportunities to learn something new, always take them,” Ramirez says. Today, her designs clothe mannequins in a design lab on campus.
Ramirez’s love for design began when she started to draw with just a pen and paper. “When I was younger, people would tell me I should be a tattoo artist, but I knew I didn’t want that as my profession,” she says.
Ramirez became aware of her gift for clothing design during her sophomore year of high school. Her Spanish teacher assigned the class to design a dress. Ramirez’s design immediately caught her teacher’s attention. “She told me ‘This is so good. You should go into fashion design,’” Ramirez recalls. After that moment, she knew she wanted to pursue fashion design as her art.
Within a few years of working in the trade, Ramirez has established herself as an experienced designer with an impressive list of clothing items. One item was featured in an Austin show this past spring called “Art Bra Austin.” The event showcased and auctioned designer bras to promote breast cancer awareness and research. Ramirez created a ‘90s-themed black pleather bra with spikes around the cups. The bra was not only chosen to be on display, but was also moved to the auction, something Ramirez says she will never forget. “I really liked making it,” she says. “And that it was a part of such a good cause.”
Although Ramirez doesn’t sell her pieces, she doesn’t keep her artwork to herself. Some of her favorite designs have been gifts to friends and family. A defining moment in her experience as a fashion designer was giving her mother a personalized apron. Ramirez also sews pieces for herself. Her favorite is a burnt orange midi-dress, delicately lined with crème lace at the hem — perfect for Longhorn game days. For Ramirez, making her own clothes and giving her creations as gifts are the goals.
What You Need in Your Closet Right Now — Designer’s Orders
Chelsea booties. She recommends pairing them with a leather jacket to achieve the perfect fall or winter outfit.
T-Shirt dress. The T-Shirt dress can be worn with a belt to show off your figure and is easy to pair with statement jewelry, such as a bold necklace or earrings, and some combat boots.