FORESTS, fairies and the fashion designer Vera Wang inspired Natalie Yeung in her Higher School Certificate textiles and design project.
The Sydney Girls High School graduate, who topped the state in the subject last year, took cues from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, fairy stories and American fashion designer Wang's 2011 spring collection for her fairy princess costume.
It is on display until tomorrow as part of the Texstyle exhibition, which showcases 34 standout works from last year's HSC textile and design students.
Ms Yeung is tackling a degree in international and global studies but still sews. Working on her textiles project during year 12 was a ''really relaxing'' escape from her other studies, she said.
Enrolments in textiles and design have risen by 35 per cent since 2005. Last year, 98 per cent of the subject's HSC students were girls.
''It's one of the strongest-growing subjects in the school environment,'' the Textstyle co-ordinator Katie Waud said.
''People are liking going back to doing things with their hands and enjoying creating their own designs,'' she said.
With so much inspiration at their fingertips, students' designs were becoming ''a lot more cutting edge'', Ms Waud said. ''It comes through the whole idea of social media and communications and what they see around them.''
Among the costumes and apparel at Texstyle is a patchwork rug in the shape of a bear skin, embroidered by Lily Ferres.
The former Willoughby Girls High School student, who won a scholarship to study design at Raffles College of Design and Commerce, was inspired by Victorian crazy quilting and native American culture.
''This is something that will be thrown across my bed or hung on my wall for the rest of my life,'' she said.
Jorja Warnecke, who did her HSC at St Clare's College, Waverley, spent much of last year fraying material by hand, with a pin, for the elaborate skirt on her major work.
Texstyle is on at The Muse exhibition space, TAFE NSW Sydney Institute Ultimo College.