Sewing classes in Illinois can be found at public and private non-profit schools that offer formal training in fashion design or merchandising. Available programs lead to the award of a certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree in sewing, fashion design, or a related field. Much of a student's coursework focuses on the development of new skills, and they may be required to provide their own tools and/or machinery. Internships, the development of a portfolio, and/or the submission of a thesis may be required by some schools' programs. Below, students will find brief summaries of six of the programs and courses, as well as a comparison table with school and tuition information.
College of DuPage
Glen Ellyn's College of DuPage is a 2-year, public school with an annual enrollment of 26,200 students. At COD, students may pursue an associate's degree in fashion design or fashion apparel production that can help to prepare them for careers as designers, seamstresses, and alterations specialists.
Both associate's programs emphasizes hands-on learning and include 39 credits of major coursework in flat pattern drafting, clothing construction and draping. Future professionals can also develop a collection, learn how clothes are constructed for the fashion industry and participate in an internship.
Students who are interested in a more short-term study option can also find courses in garment and pattern construction through the 42-credit apparel production and the 30-credit fashion design certificate programs.
Columbia College - Chicago
Located in downtown Chicago, Columbia College is one of the largest art and design schools in the country. The college offers both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in fashion design, with 42 and 72 credits of major coursework respectively. Undergraduates who have acquired 33 credits through the Bachelor of Arts curriculum can apply to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program, and the plan of study also allows for minors or double majors.
Both programs include courses in design basics, garment construction and flat patternmaking. In addition to training in advanced clothing construction and pattern development, students in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program complete a senior fashion thesis. They can also take electives in menswear design, millinery and pattern grading. Upon completion of 60 credit hours, and provided they have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, students can receive credit for professional internships.
Dominican University in River Forest is a private school attended by over 3,600 students annually. The college offers a Bachelor of Arts in Apparel Design program that allows undergraduates to specialize in dress and textile studies, fashion development or surface design.
Regardless of concentration, all students receive sewing instruction through required courses in clothing design and structure. They may also choose electives in couture tailoring and theatrical costuming.
Additional program requirements include a senior collection and a portfolio, an internship and participation in the yearly fashion show. Undergraduates also have the option to study abroad in Milan, Italy, or Paris, France.
Attended by about 16,000 students a year, Harper College is a 2-year school located in Palatine that offers certificate and degree programs in apparel construction and fashion design. Unique to these programs is an open lab, staffed by faculty professionals, with access to commercial sewing machines and dress forms.
The requirements for the 18-credit apparel certificate program include two courses in clothing design and construction, as well as an introductory and advanced course in industrial sewing technology.
Similar training can be found through the associate's program, which requires 43 credits of major coursework and topics in advanced clothing construction and flat pattern design. Additional requirements for certificate and degree students include participation in the college's annual fashion show. Future designers may also be interested in the Jury Show, a yearly event that can provide them with valuable feedback from industry experts.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
This Chicago art institute is located in the city's downtown, and sewing courses are available through the undergraduate and graduate programs in studio art and design. Prerequisites for the Bachelor of Fine Arts program with a fashion design concentration include a portfolio review and completion of the school's contemporary practices requirements.
Once enrolled, undergraduates complete a total of 132 credit hours, including 72 hours in studio work. Students receive training in all aspects of apparel development, from pattern construction to finished garments. They can also take electives in knitwear and shoe design. Beginning as sophomores, aspiring professionals participate in the school's annual fashion show.
The college also offers a Master of Design in Fashion, Body and Garment program with design studios and technical labs. The 2-year program culminates in a graduate exhibition.
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
Through the School of Architecture (College of Applied Sciences and Arts), students at the Carbondale campus of Southern Illinois University can earn a bachelor's degree in fashion design and merchandising. In addition to the core curriculum, the program allows for a specialization in fashion design that includes training in clothing construction, draping and patternmaking. Students can also take more specialized classes in computer-aided and experimental clothing design. Unique to the program are theatrical stagecraft courses in costume crafts, draping and pattern development.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Sewing Programs Offered||Tuition & Fees (2015-16)|
|College of DuPage||2-year, public; large suburb||Fashion Apparel Production Certificate,
Fashion Design Certificate,
Associate in Applied Science in Fashion Design,
Associate in Applied Science in Fashion Apparel Production
|$5,275 (undergraduate in-district);
$10,885 (undergraduate in-state);
$12,985 (undergraduate out-of-state)*
|Columbia College - Chicago||4-year, private not-for-profit; large city||Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design,
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design
|Dominican University||4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb||Bachelor of Arts in Apparel Design||$30,670 (undergraduate)*|
|Harper College||2-year, public; large suburb|| Certificate in Apparel Construction,
Associate in Applied Science in Fashion Design
| $3,228 (undergraduate in-district);
$11,208 (undergraduate out-of-state)*
|School of the Art Institute of Chicago||4-year, private not-for-profit; large city||Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio - Fashion Design,
Master of Design in Fashion, Body and Garment
|Southern Illinois University - Carbondale||4-year, public; small city||Bachelor of Science in Fashion Design and Merchandising||$13,137 (undergraduate in-state);
$26,390 (undergraduate out-of-state)*
Source: *NCES College Navigator