While some schools offer courses in apparel construction, sewing, and tailoring through continuing education departments, it's also possible to find sewing classes as part of a certificates, associate's and bachelor's programs in fashion design or theater arts. There is a lot of hands-on training and applicable practice of skills in sewing classes and fashion design programs; some programs facilitate the development of a professional portfolio. Formal education programs may also offer concentration opportunities and the ability to study abroad.
The state of Rhode Island has 15 public and private (not-for-profit) colleges and universities and, as of 2016, three of these offered programs and courses in sewing.
Community College of Rhode Island
The Community College of Rhode Island offers a course in costuming at its Knight campus, located in Warwick. This 3-credit course is part of the Associate in Fine Arts program with tracks in drama and technical theater. Students receive instruction in hand and machine sewing, patternmaking and draping. They also learn about the role of the costume designer in a theatrical production and acquire a feel for color and cloth. Additional course topics include a study of basic clothing shapes from a historical perspective and the socio-psychological dimensions of dress.
Rhode Island School of Design
This Providence school offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Apparel Design program that includes sewing-specific courses in apparel, design and tailoring. Currently, a department head and nearly 20 faculty members are involved in the program, and students have access to a variety of equipment, including dress forms, industrial grade sewing machines, and sergers. Through the sophomore apparel studios, students acquire basic training in clothing construction, draping and pattern drafting. They also learn how to work with knits, restyle used clothing and develop a collection from concept to finished garment.
Students can also find sewing classes through the college's continuing education program. For example, in 2013, the school offered a 6-week course that included the opportunity to create a number of machine-sewn accessories and garments.
University of Rhode Island
The University of Rhode Island is a major research university with its main campus in historic Kingston and a continuing education college in Providence. The university offers a Bachelor of Science in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design that allows students to specialize in one of four areas: apparel studies, fashion merchandising, interior design or textile science. Students who specialize in apparel studies can take courses in clothing construction, flat pattern design and draping; they can also pursue supplemental coursework in historic and theater costumes. Students in the program have opportunities for internships and the option to study abroad. Unique to the school is the Historic Textile and Costume Collection that includes 20,000 items of clothing, fabrics and accessories from all over the globe. Students can also minor in apparel studies.
At the Feinstein College of Continuing Education, students can pursue a non-credit Master Seamstress program that covers topics in fit, pattern development, specialty fabrics and tailoring. The 1-year program is designed for students with intermediate sewing skills. Individual electives are available through the Master Seamstress II program, and recent offerings have included courses in beginning sewing and couture clothing.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Sewing Courses and Programs Offered||Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Community College of Rhode Island||2-year, public; small city||Associate in Fine Arts||$4,266 in-state; $11,496 out-of-state per year, undergraduate*|
|Rhode Island School of Design||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city|| Bachelor of Fine Arts in Apparel Design,
Sewing Continuing Education Classes
| $45,840 per year, undergraduate*
$490 per continuing education course**
|University of Rhode Island||4-year, public; large suburb|| Minor in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design,
Bachelor of Science in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design,
Master Seamstress I and II Certificate Programs
| $12,862 in-state; $28,852 out-of-state per year, undergraduate*
$995 for Master Seamstress I Program***
$250 per course for Master Seamstress II Program***
Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **Rhode Island School of Design, ***University of Rhode Island.