by Jozef Polc, Slovakia

What Are Dressmaking Schools?

Dressmaking schools provide degree programs that enable you to become adept at designing and constructing your own dresses and formal wear. When you enroll in a program, you will learn the ins and outs of the dress design business.

You have quite a few options for completing your dressmaking education – you can go to school online in your spare time, work through a home study program, or enroll in a traditional university or fashion institute. Following your graduation, you can use your new found abilities to wow your customers and incite jealously from your competitors with your fierce new skill set.

Small localized dressmaking schools and classes exist in larger cities all around the country. These schools often allow you to take a few classes, or even earn dressmaking certificates. However, if you’re looking to pursue a dressmaking career, then you should opt for enrolling in an accredited university or fashion school program. There are quite a few well-known art and design schools around the world that provide highly specialized degrees in dressmaking.

In the United States, some of the more well-known schools that offer degrees in dress design include the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Pratt Institute, and Parsons New School for Design. Additionally, the Academy of Art University, located in San Francisco, offers dressmaking courses, as does Savannah College of Art and Design and Virginia Commonwealth University. These are just a few programs; many other dressmaking schools offer targeted dress design programs as well.

What Programs Do Dressmaking Schools Offer?

Dressmaking schools typically teach students the fundamentals first. This can include such skills as how to properly identify various fabrics and fibers along with how to care for them. Courses also cover basic skills, like selecting the right material for a project; marking, cutting, and tacking fabrics for the ideal fit; finishing garments; and altering patterns to make designs uniquely yours.

Dressmaking schools will teach you to create elegant pieces that will survive in a high-fashion environment, much unlike the factory standard garments that are produced en-mass. The concepts you will learn at these institutions will enable you to create pieces you can truly call your own, and you’ll be able to insert your own stamp of originality on each dress that leaves your hands.

You’ll also learn how to produce dresses just like the ones manufactured by larger companies – tight seams and uniform stitching, proper beading and needlework, and everything in between will become old hand for you once you’ve completed your dressmaking education.

When you attend dressmaking schools, most of the materials are provided for you, and the equipment you must use is located onsite. Sewing machines are provided, and most programs offer one machine for each student. Your fees generally cover the cloth, thread, and most of the other items necessary to produce your creations.

Depending on what types of people you intend to design for, your dressmaking education could
focus on a few different categories, including (but not limited to):

  • Children’s dresses
  • Ladies’ dresses
  • Formalwear
  • Wedding gowns
  • Lingerie
  • Maternity wear

What Are the Different Types of Dressmaking Degrees & Certifications?

There are a few different types of dressmaking degrees that you can choose from. Because most employers only hire dress designers with college degrees under their belts, you should opt to pursue either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in fashion design.

If you decide to pursue your Associate degree in Fashion Design, you will learn things like clothing production techniques, design and construction of textiles, and the fundamentals of the color wheel. Many dressmaking schools offer training in “design labs” that allow you to work with the latest tools and software in the field today. This degree path is perfect for those who are seeking entry-level positions in the design industry.

If you decide to go further with your dress design education, then you may want to consider a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design. If you choose this route, you’ll be exposed to advanced design coursework that touches on things like fashion drawing and clothing design and analysis. By the end of your studies, you’ll have the ability to transfer your hand-drawn designs to computer programs, and you’ll come away from your schooling with a complete portfolio of designs and concepts to show off to potential employers during your job search.

At some colleges, Master’s degree programs are even offered. These advanced degrees aren’t usually necessary, but they can take you much further in your career.

What Can I Do with a Degree from a Dressmaking School?

A degree from a dressmaking school can open several doors in the fashion industry for you. For instance, if you prefer to work for yourself, you can also choose to open a custom dress shop. You may be able to work in upscale boutiques, clothing stores, or large garment manufacturers.

Employers also like to see a few years of experience before they’ll hire you, which is why many dressmaking schools offer internships either during or directly following your studies to assist you in fulfilling experience requirements for potential jobs upon graduation.

You should not enter a program blindly, however. Be sure to have a working knowledge of the fashion industry, and also make sure you’re comfortable using various computer-aided drafting (CAD) programs and other popular software used for graphic design. You should also be a team player, detail-oriented, and have a good sense of style going into a program as well.

Do I Really Need a Degree in Dressmaking?

A degree in dressmaking is not a philosophical degree; it’s far different than, say, a Bachelor of Sociology. These days, such degrees won’t take you far in the real world. The job market of today is cutthroat. Getting a job or starting a business is about what you know how to do – and how well you do it. A degree in dressmaking is an applied degree, meaning you will come out of the program with a skillset, and you can apply those skills to your career for the rest of your life.

The answer to the question of whether a degree in dressmaking is a necessity is a resounding yes. Whether you choose to start your own little boutique or you decide to apply for a position with a major fashion house, your degree will serve as the backbone for just about everything you do in the world of dress design.