Sewing Lessons and Classes in Chicago, Illinois with School Info

The Chicago area has a couple of schools within ten miles of the downtown that offer courses and programs that include sewing. Learn about courses, admission info, and program requirements for three Chicago schools and decide which program is right for you.

Chicago, IL, Schools with Sewing Classes

Chicago students who are interested in sewing can find training at three, private not-for-profit schools, which are summarized below. Use the supplementary table to compare key school facts and program costs, and find a section about one other school option for sewing students in Chicago.

  • The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is located less than a mile from the downtown and is connected to the Art Institute of Chicago. At this school, students can take noncredit courses in fashion, which include instruction in sewing, or pursue several certificate or degree programs in fashion, body, and garment studies.
  • Columbia College Chicago, also located less than a mile from the downtown, offers a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design. Both programs include training in sewing.
  • Dominican University offers a bachelor's program in apparel design that includes sewing courses. The university is located in a suburb just outside the city, about 12 miles from the downtown.

Comparison of Schools

In addition to program costs, the following table provides information about school size, financial aid, and acceptance rates. Retention rates for full-time students can also be found in this table, along with graduation percentages for students who enrolled in 2005.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago Columbia College Chicago Dominican University
School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (Fall 2014) 3,599* 9,440* 3,498*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large suburb
Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-16) $43,960* $24,344* $30,670*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Aid (2013-14) 99%* 82%* 93%*
Acceptance Rate (Fall 2014) 69%* 89%* 61%*
Retention Rate (2013-2014) 82% for full-time students* 71% for full-time students* 81% for full-time students*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (for students beginning in 2008) 57%* 43%* 63%*

Sources: *NCES College Navigator

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is an independent, accredited school of art and design that offers interdisciplinary programs and the opportunity for students to acquire multidisciplinary skills. The university is adjoined to the Art Institute of Chicago and has a Fashion Resource Center, which allows students to acquire hands-on experience making clothing, shoes, and accessories. Students can also interview designers, watch runway shows, and explore fashion ideas as part of their curriculum.

Adult Continuing Education Fashion Classes

SAIC offers several noncredit adult continuing education fashion classes that meet one day per week for about three months. The fashion drawing class teaches students how to capture fashion mood and texture by working from a live model. In the patternmaking class, students design patterns, such as skirts, for women. In a class on basic sewing techniques, they also learn to put together garments from established and original patterns using industrial sewing machines. The above-the-waist sewing class trains students to sew button-down shirts and lined, zippered shells from commercial or original designs.

Fashion Certificate

This certificate program requires ten studio classes and two electives. Once enrolled, students acquire experience in designing and constructing fashionable garments. They also develop a fashion portfolio that will prepare them to apply to college fashion programs or begin working in the fashion industry. Courses include topics in sewing fundamentals, above-the-waist sewing techniques, pattern construction, portfolio development, and fashion runways. Students can also take electives in accessory design, color theory application, shoe design, and fashion history.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio

This interdisciplinary program allows students to specialize in a variety of areas, including fashion. Admission to the program requires a portfolio. Students learn primary garment design and construction skills that include sewing. They also choose electives in fashion illustration, knitwear, or footwear. Internships can be arranged. The school also puts on an annual fashion show that features student work.

Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Fashion, Body, and Garment

This program is intended for students who already have a bachelor's degree but still need additional preparation in the field - including portfolio preparation - prior to applying to a graduate degree program. The 3-semester program features studio opportunities, labs, and a combination of art and design classes.

Master of Design in Fashion, Body, and Garment

The master's degree program in fashion, body, and garment is a 2-year program that requires design studios, seminars, labs, and research. Course topics include fashion design, fashion history, and modern art. The program combines fashion and art to help students create unique and memorable designs. Electives allow students to hone their skills and complete professional practice, which includes a final project and a thesis.

Columbia College Chicago

At this school, enrollees learn to develop their creativity in communication, the arts, and media and apply it in ways that can lead to a fruitful and productive career. Through the Fashion Studies Department at the School of Fine and Performing Arts, students can pursue degree programs in fashion design or fashion business. Sewing classes are part of the fashion design program. In their junior or senior year, students can apply for fashion internships in the city. They also have access to the fashion lab, complete with construction studios, industrial sewing machines, dress forms, and CAD-equipped computers.

Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design

In this program, students complete 42-credits of fashion-related classes while learning to use a variety of materials to produce fashionable garments. They apply artistic concepts in a practical manner, analyze the quality of their own and others' work, and interpret patterns to create clothing. Courses include topics in garment construction, fashion design basics and illustration, textiles, and men's clothing design; students also participate in fashion workshops. The purpose of the program is to provide students with a solid foundation in fashion design so they can pursue a career in the industry.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design

Students in the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program choose from the same classes as students enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts program. The BFA program requires 72 credits of fashion classes and completion of a senior thesis.

Dominican University

Dominican University is a private, not-for-profit institution affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. The Apparel Design and Merchandising Department is committed to helping students look at fashion as both a business and an art and explores the technical and professional aspects of the field. Every year, the department hosts a spring fashion show.

Bachelor of Arts in Apparel Design

Through the Bachelor of Arts in Apparel Design program, students can select from a concentration in dress and textile studies, fashion development, or surface design. Through the major requirements, students learn to design patterns, construct garments, and make sure they fit. Other courses cover the basics of merchandising and retailing. Students explore methods for tailoring clothing so it fits better and drapes correctly.

Other School Option

Students interested in taking sewing courses can also pursue certificate and degree programs at the College of DuPage, which is roughly 25 miles from downtown Chicago.

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