Individuals seeking a dressmaking degree typically enroll in associate's or bachelor's programs in fashion design. These programs often include hands-on classes in pattern-making, sewing, draping and tailoring - all skills that are used in dressmaking. While this is generally a hands-on field, some schools do offer online coursework.
Students who are not interested in earning a degree may find classes or non-credit certificate programs in dressmaking from community education programs or the continuing education department of community colleges. Students in these courses may be required to supply their own materials or tools.
Associate Degree in Fashion Design
Specific dressmaking degree programs may be difficult to locate. Instead, students can learn dressmaking and other related skills through fashion design degree programs. Associate's degree programs generally take two years to complete. Students learn fashion design fundamentals through a combination of traditional lecture and practical hands-on courses in addition to a curriculum of core liberal arts courses. Programs can also include the opportunity to study abroad, take part in an internship or complete a portfolio. Fashion design programs typically include courses such as:
- Clothing construction
- Patterns and design
- Sewing techniques
- Textile manufacturing
- History of fashion
Bachelor's Degree in Fashion Design
Bachelor's programs in fashion design often lead to a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree and take four years to complete. A high school diploma or equivalent is required for admission, as well as a portfolio, resume, letters of recommendation, and other university requirements. Some schools may require an associate's degree or college-level coursework before applying to the BFA degree program.
Bachelor's programs in fashion design include a foundation in the liberal arts along with an in-depth study of creative, commercial, technical, and business aspects of the field. Study abroad opportunities in international fashion centers such as Milan and Paris may be available, and students are encouraged to work in hands-on environments in the classroom and internships. Specializations in specific fields such as knitwear, sportswear, or special occasion apparel may be possible. Some typical BFA courses include:
- Fashion design
- Advanced pattern drafting
- Fashion design digital tools
- Fashion and culture
- Fashion illustration
- Fashion marketing
Popular Career Options
An associate's degree in fashion design can prepare students for a variety of positions in the field. Some of these options include:
- Assistant designer
- Assistant production manager
- Pattern maker
- Quality assurance associate
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers across the nation was around $31,000 as of May 2018. The BLS reported that fashion designers earned an average salary of around $72,720 in the same time period. During the decade spanning from 2018 to 2028, the BLS predicted that the demand for fashion designers will increase 1%. The slow growth is attributed to overseas production, which is leading to employment declines in the U.S. apparel manufacturing industry.
Undergraduates who want to become dressmakers can study the subject as part of a broader associate's or bachelor's degree program in fashion design. Students learn critical sewing and pattern-making techniques, and they may create professional portfolios or participate in study abroad opportunities.