Jacob McIntyre said he feels comfortable doing what most men wouldn’t.
When McIntyre was in sixth grade, his aunt taught him to knit. He picked it up overnight.
Now, the 19-year-old Youngstown State University sophomore has three sewing machines, is enrolled in the University Scholars program, works in the costume department in Bliss Hall and creates his own designs.
McIntyre said working as a costume stitcher provides room for growth and improvement.
“I’m getting better at it,” he said. “I never thought I’d get a job like this.”
He was introduced to creating jewelry, clothes and costumes when his best friend Kathrynne Fitzgerald showed him how to make jewelry and paint with fabric paint.
“A whole new world was opened to me,” McIntyre said. “I’m hooked.”
Since then, McIntyre has created unique T-shirts, earrings, bracelets and blankets. He designed his own matador costume for Halloween this year and called it the suit of lights. The costume forced McIntyre to take a design concept and adapt it to fit a model: himself.
“It’s one thing to use a pattern and draw it out, but I used my own pattern, and then I had to try it on to fit it to my body,” he said.
McIntyre said the design required extensive tailoring and hand-sewn embellishments.
He added that his co-workers — as well as associate professor Jane Shanabarger and associate staff designer W. Rick Schilling, both of the theater and dance department — inspire his designs.
“They have such great ideas, and I can learn a lot from being around the theater talking about shows,” he said.
Shanabarger said McIntyre has constructed dresses for recent plays such as “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “1940s Radio Hour.”
“He works well with others,” she said. “He is quiet, adaptable and personable.”
McIntyre added that Fitzgerald has been supportive. Fitzgerald said McIntyre is creative and has an extremely tough-minded work ethic.
“Jake spends pretty much 95 percent of his free time, of which he doesn’t have much, believe me, working on projects he has already started, or designing and sketching new ones as he goes along,” Fitzgerald said. “He tries to get whatever he starts done as well and as efficiently as he can.”
She added that McIntyre has a unique personality.
“He is so smart and determined, but he is also zany and out of the box with his thinking,” she said. “His logic never gets in the way of his imagination.”
Fitzgerald said she thinks McIntyre will end up successful and in a big city.
“Either in a studio working on his own designs or doing high-scale costume work for Broadway,” she said.
Fitzgerald said she taught him a lot, but he inspires her with his courage.
“I taught him that the underlying sense of creativity and ingenuity he had all along should never be hindered, no matter where he came from or who he used to know,” she said.
McIntyre’s other close friend, sophomore Melissa Wasser, said he’s very talented and goal-oriented.
“He has an eye for fashion that I wish I could have. He knows what is in, in the fashion world,” she said. “He knows what looks good and knows how to effectively sketch and then create that idea that he has into a specific outfit or look.”
Wasser said McIntyre made a costume for her when she attended a Lady Gaga concert in Cleveland.
“He has also sewed many pieces of clothing and has made me a jacket for my sorority events as well,” she said.
McIntyre said his work means more than just clothes he can wear.
“I can express myself through fashion,” he said. “It’s fun, but it’s also dramatic. … It’s a story.”
He said he is glad YSU provides him with so many opportunities and options.
“Becoming a part of fashion, theater, art and writing is not just school,” McIntyre said. “It moves you. You can carry it with you after you leave.”
While he would like to sell his creations, McIntyre doesn’t have the time. He still manages to work on his passion when he isn’t busy with his studies.
He said he has become entirely enthused with fashion design.
“I don’t want to do this for the attention,” McIntyre said. “It’s a big part of my life. I love to create things for people that are beautiful.”