Sewing Classes in Manhattan, NY with Program Information

There are several schools within four miles of downtown Manhattan that offer sewing-related courses and programs. Read an overview of three schools' programs, requirements and admission info and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Sewing Classes and Programs in Manhattan

According to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, both Manhattan's garment district and its significant number of fashion schools are two of the main reasons New York City is known as the fashion capital of the world. Manhattan has several institutions that offer formal and continuing education programs in fashion design, management and merchandising, and three of the not-for-profit schools have degree programs that include sewing-related courses. Along with test scores and transcripts, students who apply will be required to submit a portfolio. Below are summaries of the program options at three schools, as well as a comparison table with important statistical information and a brief list of other school options.

  • Located in the heart of the garment district, less than three miles from Manhattan's downtown, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) provides students with valuable access to industry leaders and professional opportunities. The school is part of the State University of New York (SUNY).
  • Parsons The New School for Design offers associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees, and its cutting-edge fashion program has been in existence since 1904. Parsons is located less than two miles from downtown Manhattan.
  • A little less than four miles from Manhattan's downtown, the 125-year-old Pratt Institute offers just one four-year degree in fashion design; however, the school does provide students with opportunities to obtain some real-life industry experience. Pratt's main campus is located in a residential area of the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn and is easily accessible by private or public transportation.

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Comparison of Schools

Students who like to sew may be interested in pursuing a formal degree program in fashion design. If so, the following table, which includes information about program costs and acceptance rates, may help aspiring fashionistas decide which school is the right one for them.

Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY) The New School Pratt Institute
School Type Four-year; public Four-year; private not-for-profit Four-year; private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2014) 9,764* 10,477* 4,690*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Tuition and Fees (2015-2016) $5,230 in-state; $14,230 out-of-state* $43,813* $46,586*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2013-2014) 81%* 96%* 79%*
Acceptance Rate (2014) 44%* 66%* 53%*
Retention Rate (2014) 89% full-time, 56% part-time* 83% full-time, 79% part-time* 85% full-time, 100% part-time*
Graduation Rate (full-time students who enrolled in 2008) 74%* 60%* 64%*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY)

The undergraduate fashion program at FIT was one of the first to be offered by the school, and for the past 65 years, the institute has been teaching students how to create clothing for the haute couture and ready-to-wear markets. These career-oriented programs combine a strong foundation in the liberal arts with industry-level training and provide aspiring designers with opportunities to participate in annual fashion shows, complete internships and study abroad. Classes are taught by professionals with up-to-date knowledge of the industry, and students also might be able to interact with high-profile designers like Carolina Herrera, Calvin Klein, Norma Kamali and Bob Mackie.

Associate of Applied Science in Fashion Design

In addition to the traditional associate's program, FIT offers an international option that includes the opportunity to spend time in Florence, Italy, and a 1-year course of study for students who have already fulfilled their liberal arts requirements. The 2-year curriculum requires approximately 66 credits, including liberal arts and major coursework. Students also take classes in life drawing and textiles.

The first-year curriculum includes two courses in sewing that can help students acquire the basic skills they need to create sample garments. These hands-on classes teach future designers how to use industry-level tools and cotton fabric to cut, construct and finish couture-level prototypes. Students in their final semester can specialize in either apparel or art, and the concentrations provide training in data management, digital design, draping or collection design.

Associate of Applied Science in Menswear

FIT's 2-year degree program in menswear is the only one of its kind in the United States and helps to provide students with the conceptual, design and production skills they need to work in one of the industry's fastest-growing areas. In addition to taking professionally taught classes in basic sewing, computer-aided design, drawing and patternmaking, students may be able to participate in multiple internships at DKNY, Marc Jacobs or Helmut Lang, among other design houses. Students also have access to the Menswear Club, which allows aspiring designers to visit out-of-state companies like Land's End, Levi-Strauss and Nike, and study abroad options in Paris or Milan.

This program requires students to complete 24 credits of liberal studies, and the sewing-intensive curriculum takes menswear majors through all phases of garment construction and styling. The 100-level sewing course shows students how to layout, cut and assemble a classic shirt, while the sequential courses in tailoring can teach them to make handmade waistband curtains, style pants pockets and produce lined suit jackets. In the second year, designers-in-training learn to work with a master pattern and create muslin prototypes.

Additional topics include computer design, digital art and international clothing. The program culminates in the creation of a menswear collection that, depending on the quality of your work, might be exhibited at the Museum at FIT.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design

Undergraduates who have completed the 2-year program can continue their studies at the upper level and pursue individual majors in children's wear, intimate apparel, knitwear, special occasion clothing and sportswear. The option to study abroad also provides qualified students with the chance to spend a year in Milan, Italy.

In their fifth semester, students take classes in body contour, computerized pattern design, fashion merchandising and knitwear design. Additional requirements include a class in flat pattern construction and sewing that shows participants how to fit, measure and finish knitwear-based garments. During their final semester, students assemble an e-portfolio, design a collection and participate in an internship.

The programs in intimate apparel, special occasion clothing and sportswear also require individual courses in sewing or tailoring. Students who major in intimate apparel learn to work with a specialized pattern called a sloper and create lingerie prototypes, while budding sportswear designers are taught to construct and hand-style a jacket. The course in haute couture, required of all special occasion majors, provides training in cutting, hand stitching, seaming, pressing and finishing.

Parsons The New School for Design

Parsons The New School for Design began as the Chase School in 1896, and its founding faculty included members of New York City's Arts Students League. In addition to the fashion design program, the school offers a number of fine arts majors in illustration, interior design, product design and photography.

Associate of Applied Science in Fashion Design

This professional program is geared toward students with prior college experience, and some of the required courses are offered online. It includes a 34-credit fast track option that can be completed in as little as one year, as well as a part-time study option that allows working students to take classes at night. Students who apply to the fast track and liberal arts transfer programs may be able to transfer as many as 31 credits toward their degrees.

At the introductory level, the classes associated with clothing construction include training in draping, patternmaking and sewing. Advanced classes in clothing construction emphasize haute couture techniques, and students will have the chance to develop their own designs. In addition to classroom and studio work, aspiring designers can also attend job fairs, participate in design internships and receive individualized career counseling.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design

The first of its kind in the United States, the 4-year fashion design program at Parsons can help tomorrow's professionals prepare for careers in a number of related areas, including accessory, costume and fashion design, interior design, marketing, merchandising or museum work. The curriculum differs from the associate's program in that students take courses in integrated design rather than those devoted to the individual aspects of garment construction.

All fashion design majors are required to complete the school's first-year program, which includes classes in global art and design, 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional design, drawing and studio work. Integrated studio classes are taken during the sophomore and junior years, and these can help students advance their draping, patternmaking and technical skills. Four-year students also take courses in fashion design history and visual communication, and the program culminates in an integrated thesis, which includes a collection and portfolio. Beginning in 2013, qualified fashion design majors may also be able to study at the school's Paris campus.

Pratt Institute

The Pratt Institute's faculty includes professional academics, artists and designers, and the school is recognized around the world for its programs in architecture, design, fine arts, information studies and library science. Through the School of Art and Design, Pratt offers an undergraduate program in fashion design that emphasizes critical thinking, the historical context of fashion and professional skills.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design

Pratt Institute's 4-year program in fashion design is a combination of liberal studies, art survey classes and major coursework in fashion design, illustration and studio work. Foundation art courses include studies in color, drawing and textiles, and as they progress through their degree plan, students also take classes in costume design, 20th-century apparel and the ecological and sustainable aspects of fashion.

Courses specific to sewing include draping and tailoring, as well as studio classes devoted to the design of active and special occasion clothing, knitwear, lingerie, sportswear and swimsuits. Through the class in tailoring, future designers are introduced to an assortment of sewing and finishing techniques, along with construction methods necessary for completing a number of projects. Students also learn about fitting techniques, flat pattern drafting and human anatomy.

The program culminates in a senior-year collection, a course in portfolio development and an internship at Donna Karan, Rag & Bone, Ralph Lauren or a similar design company. Students are encouraged to show their work in public, and sponsors of annual design competitions include the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund.

Other School Options

In addition to the Manhattan-based schools listed above, Nassau Community College in Garden City, NY, offers Associate of Applied Science degrees in both fashion design and fashion buying. The school is located a little less than 27 miles from Manhattan.

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