Philadelphia Schools with Sewing Classes
In Philadelphia, there are three fashion design programs that offer courses in apparel construction and pattern-making, as well as the opportunity to pursue cooperative work experiences or internships with industry leaders. These can be found at an art college and two private universities. The following resource includes a summary of the programs with special attention paid to their sewing courses. Students will also find a comparison table with key school statistics and a paragraph about other school options.
- Drexel University is located near Philadelphia's main 30th Street railroad station, a little over two miles from the downtown. The university offers a bachelor's degree program in fashion design.
- The only women's art college in America, the Moore College of Art and Design is located in Philadelphia's Parkway Museums District, roughly one mile from the downtown. The college is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design and has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Relevant undergraduate programs include a major and minor in fashion design.
- Philadelphia University, located a little over eight miles from the downtown, was originally founded as a textile school over 100 years ago. At the university's residential campus in East Falls, about 15 minutes away from historic Philadelphia, students can earn a bachelor's degree in fashion design.
Comparison of Schools
Students who are interested in earning a degree in fashion design while developing their fine sewing skills can use the table below to compare program costs and acceptance rates. Information about financial aid and graduation rates can also be found in this table.
|Drexel University||Moore College of Art and Design||Philadelphia University|
|School Type*||4-year; private not-for-profit||4-year; private not-for-profit||4-year; private not-for-profit|
|Total Enrollment (2014)*||26,359||453||3,762|
|Campus Setting*||Large city||Large city||Large city|
|Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)*||$48,791||$36,828||$36,670|
|% of Beginning Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2013-2014)*||94%||96%||99%|
|Acceptance Rate (2014)*||76%||59%||64%|
|Retention Rate (2013-2014)*|| 84% for full-time students;
53% for part-time students
|84% for full-time students|| 79% for full-time students;
14% for part-time students
|Graduation Rate (2014)*||67%||58%||66%|
Source: *NCES College Navigator
The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design offers a wide variety of degree programs in fashion, graphic, interior and product design. The design curricula is a combination of liberal studies and studio-based, hands-on learning activities. Several sewing-related courses cover apparel production, pattern-making and draping.
Bachelor of Science in Fashion Design
This undergraduate program requires 182-quarter credit hours (approximately 122 semester hours) to complete, and the curriculum includes courses in general education, fashion design and visual studies. The coursework for the major provides students with the opportunity to pursue topics in computer-aided design, construction techniques, costume history and fashion drawing. Sewing-specific courses include draping, flat pattern design and tailoring, and the program culminates in the development of a senior collection and a competitive student fashion show. Undergraduates who choose to participate in the school's cooperative education program can acquire between six and 18 months of industry-related work experience.
Students can develop proficiency in basic apparel production and learn how to use industry-grade equipment. Students are also taught how to design flat patterns, use slopers and identify the differences between drafting and draping technologies. The course in tailoring emphasizes couture techniques and includes an in-depth exploration of the construction methods and materials used to create custom garments.
Moore College of Art and Design
This art and design college offers Bachelor of Fine Arts programs in fashion and textile design, computer-related design and museum studies. Freshman admission requirements include a 12-20-piece portfolio and a minimum of one letter of recommendation from a guidance counselor or secondary school art teacher.
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design
The 129-credit undergraduate fashion program includes 42 credits of liberal arts and 18 credits of foundational studies. Students take sequential courses in fashion design, drawing and studio work and pursue topics in apparel fabrics and art history. Students acquire sewing skills though fashion studio courses, and the program culminates in a 4.5-credit internship during their senior year.
In the introductory studio course, future designers study apparel construction, flat pattern drafting and muslin draping techniques. In subsequent studio courses, students can also learn how to use industry-grade equipment and receive feedback from design professionals. At the most advanced level, the studio course teaches students how to use sample room methods to develop patterns and construct, fit and finish clothing. In addition to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program, Moore College offers a 5-course, high school certificate program in fashion design that must be completed within three years.
Minor in Fashion Design
Upon consultation with an advisor, students who are pursuing a minor in fashion design have the opportunity to take a limited number of courses in apparel construction, draping and pattern-making.
The Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce provides collaborative learning opportunities for students who are pursuing careers in design, engineering and entrepreneurship. Freshman application materials include an essay or a writing sample and one letter of recommendation.
Bachelor of Science in Fashion Design
The interdisciplinary fashion design program requires 125-127 credits of coursework, and students receive their training from senior designers and product developers from the apparel manufacturing industry. In addition to general education and fine arts courses, the curriculum includes sewing-specific courses in apparel structures, pattern-making and collection development.
Through the study of pattern development, students learn how to create bodice, skirt and sleeve patterns and have the opportunity to produce two custom-made ensembles. At the advanced level, future professionals are taught how to drape, design and sew with industrial dress forms and machinery. To fulfill the elective requirements, students can also take a course in tailoring or couture techniques that can help them develop their hand and/or machine sewing techniques. Students have the option to study abroad or participate in the Nexus Learning program. The latter provides fashion design majors with the opportunity to develop their own apparel lines for companies like Abercrombie & Fitch and QVC.
Other School Options
In addition to the programs described above, Harcum College in Bryn Mawr also offers a fashion design program and is about ten miles from Philadelphia.