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Tailoring Schools and Classes

Find information about tailoring classes, including those that are offered as part of continuing education or formal certificate and degree programs. Keep reading to learn more about training topics, job options and salaries.

What You Need to Know

If you are interested in training for professional tailoring, look for hands-on classes that will let you learn and practice sewing fundamentals (especially if you have no prior experience), as well as instruction in how to change a garment's shape, size or cut so that it has the best fit for a customer's frame. A tailor can specialize in alterations for male or female clothing (or both), or one might choose to specialize in a particular type of garment, such as bridal gowns, men's suits or costumes. If this interests you, classes and certificate programs are available for specific types of tailoring.

Because you may be working for a retail store providing custom tailoring for customers, a dry cleaning store, or even your own tailoring company, learning business, management and basic accounting skills may also come in handy. Finally, earning a degree in a related field, such as fashion or costume design, can be helpful for the prospective tailor.

Courses Pad stitching, foundation shaping, creating special lapels and collars
Degree Fashion design or costume design
Salary $28,600 per year as of 2017 (median) for tailors, dressmakers, and custom sewers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Which Kinds of Courses Are Available?

At your local community or technical college you may find tailoring courses as part of a continuing education program. In these courses you may learn basic tailoring techniques or how to tailor different types of garments, such as men's suits. Some courses may teach you how to specialize in tailoring couture garments or using industrial sewing techniques.

What Instruction Will I Receive as Part of a Larger Degree?

The curriculum of a degree program in fashion design usually includes instruction in tailoring. For example, you may complete a course that explains the characteristics of tailored garments. Your classes will cover a wide range of tailoring skills; some of the skills you learn will be more general and applicable to all forms of tailoring, while others will detail highly specific techniques. Classes may cover topics like:

  • Sewing machine usage and care
  • Hand sewing, cutting and repairs
  • Fitting and alterations
  • Advanced tailoring techniques
  • Altering specific clothing items, like bespoke suits, bridalwear and historical artifacts
  • Learning CAD software
  • The fashion/textile industry, its history and current trends
  • Basic marketing and business skills

You may also pursue a degree in costume design. In these programs, you take courses in sewing costumes, which require special sewing techniques designed to withstand dancing or quick costume changes.

Are Tailoring Certificate Programs Available?

Certificate programs in tailoring are available, some of which focus on tailoring men's or women's clothing. In these programs, you learn sew-by-hand and machine sewing techniques. Your certificate program may include an internship and coursework on making clothes ready for mass production. Usually, upon graduation from a certificate program, you are prepared for entry-level positions in the field.

Tailoring Degrees, Programs and Courses

If you're looking to learn tailoring skills and build experience, here are some of the typical programs and classes you might encounter:

  • The Fashion Department of El Camino College (Torrance, CA) offers associate's degree options for students interested in fashion design and production or merchandising. These programs cover basic tailoring in addition to more advanced, specialized skills. This program also affords the opportunity to build a professional portfolio and a network of contacts through El Camino College's Tailor Made Fashion Club.
  • For those looking for a more comprehensive education, a bachelor's degree might be the right choice--for example, the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fashion Design at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston, MA), a.k.a MassArt. MassArt's fashion program has been around since 1907 and offers a high-quality program of study in the world of fashion, including practical tailoring, technology, business and marketing. MassArt also offers a two-year certificate that focuses on technical skill, as well as professional development.
  • At Los Angeles Trade Technical College (Los Angeles, CA), even working adults with busy schedules can earn a professional certificate in tailoring, with evening and weekend classes in tailoring and advanced tailoring, art and design, computer-aided design (CAD) systems, industry basics, pattern drafting and more.
  • Houston Community College (Houston, TX) not only offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Fashion Design, but you can also learn a specialist tailoring trade by earning a certificate in Digital Design, Menswear, Patternmaking or Theatrical Costuming. Each of these programs will cover basic tailoring skills while teaching you the skills you need to know to specialize in your chosen profession. Internships are also included in these courses, to help you earn real-world experience.
  • At the famous Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, NY), you can find many fashion design certificates and degrees that cover tailoring fundamentals. In particular, FIT offers a credit certificate in Ladies Tailoring, designed to prepare you to work as a tailor or tailor's assistant who works with women's suits, skirts and jackets. Other related certificates of interest to a professional tailor include Haute Couture, Draping, Patternmaking and Millinery (headwear). Note that there are no prerequisites to sign up for a certificate course at FIT, but some specific classes may require previous coursework or relevant experience.