Dressmaking and Design

Program Outline

Instruction Sets
Your program consists of 7 Instruction Sets designed to take you step-by-step through the knowledge and skills you'll use in your new career.

You must have access to a sewing machine in order to complete this program.

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.

Here's how it works
You receive the first course as soon as your enrollment has been accepted, and other courses will follow as you complete your exams. Here is an overview of what you'll learn and the order in which you'll access your lessons:

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal: The program goal for Penn Foster's Dressmaking and Design program is to prepare students to create professional-grade garments from customized patterns using hand- and machine-sewing techniques in order to work as a dressmaker.

Program Outcomes:
Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Identify basic sewing tools and how they're properly used to cut, pin, press, and hand-sew knits and woven fabrics.
  • Recognize the parts of a standard sewing machine and techniques for its threading, use, and proper maintenance.
  • Identify the characteristics and properties of common fabrics and the fibers from which they're made, including details on care, cleaning, and how to handle these fabrics when sewing.
  • Estimate the amount of fabric needed for a garment and handle, press, and tack fabric properly while constructing the garment.
  • Choose and correctly use various styles of seams, pockets, necklines, sleeves, and shoulder pads for a garment based on the garment's style and intended wear.
  • Choose and construct flourishes such as collars, fasteners, cuffs, buttonholes, waist finishes, and interfacing for a garment based on the garment's style and intended wear.
  • Recognize different body types and the colors, lengths, silhouettes, and styles used to create a finished product that will flatter the wearer's individual shape.
  • Comprehend the components and construction techniques for specialty garments related to maternity wear, infants' and children's clothes, nighttime wear, and undergarments.
  • Identify types of and uses for decorative elements such as hand-sewn embroidery, ruffles, pleats, and decorative fastenings.
  • Measure a wearer in order to choose the right size pattern for a project, alter a pattern to fit the individual's shape and preferences, transfer the pattern to the chosen fabric, and continue to alter for proper fit as the garment is constructed.
  • Comprehend the basic principles of draping fabric in order to create decorative flourishes, enhance the fit of skirts and bodices, and sew a variety of sleeve styles.
  • Recognize the details of successfully managing a home business, including how to purchase professional sewing items, appropriately register a home as a place of business, price finished products, and use good customer service as a marketing strategy.

Instruction Set 1

Starting Your Program
Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program. Understand how to use your Student Portal. Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers. Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.

Introduction to Sewing
The art of sewing; introduction to tools and equipment; temporary and permanent stitches; creating the most common seams; taking measurements; purchasing and preparing patterns; making simple pattern alterations.

Learning Aid: Binder

Instruction Set 2

The Sewing Machine
Types of sewing machines and machine attachments; threading machines; making stitches; setting machine timing and tension; sewing machine care; cleaning and lubrication; removing burrs; troubleshooting.

Practical Exercise 1

Instruction Set 3

Fibers and Fabrics
Identifying fibers and fabrics; choosing the right fabric; working and handling fabrics; properly caring for fabrics and treating stains.

Basic Dressmaking Processes
Selecting materials for a garment; marking and cutting fabric; tacking for proper fit; shaping, interfacing, binding, seams, and hems.

Practical Exercise 2

Instruction Set 4

Decorative Features
Introduction to common decorative features; preparing neckline, skirt and sleeve openings; installing zippers; constructing and attaching cuffs and collars; attaching fasteners.

Advanced Dressmaking Techniques
Finishing corners, points, and curved edges; forming pleats; making coats, jackets, trousers; working with linings, shoulder pads, and boning.

Practical Exercise 3

Learning Aid: Pattern

Instruction Set 5

Line and Design in Fashion
Line, color, texture, and detail; types of line; principles of design: balance, proportion and scale, rhythm, emphasis, and unit; creating optical illusions.

Miscellaneous Garments
Construction of non-standard garments: maternity wear, infants and children, nightwear, underwear; working with lace trim.

Practical Exercise 4

Supplement: Always in Style

Instruction Set 6

Embroidery tools and materials; handworking embroidery stitches; machine embroidery; smocking and quilting.

Garment Decoration
Applying garment-decorating techniques: ruffles, fringe, tassels, beading, sequins; belts and belt loops; custom fasteners.

Pattern Alteration Making major pattern alterations for shoulders, armholes, bust size, sleeves, skirts, and pants.

Practical Exercise 5

Equipment: Pattern

Instruction Set 7

Alterations and Fitting
Altering and fitting necklines, including altering necklines, armholes, and sleeves; raising or lowering a waistline; eliminating wrinkles and bulges.

Drafting Patterns from Basic Patterns
Constructing the basic pattern; designing the bodice, neckline, collar, sleeve, and skirt.

Designing by Draping
Principles of draping; using and customizing a dress form; creating original clothing designs.

Practical Exercise 6

Final Project

Supplement: Dressmaking Glossary


Online Library and Librarian
Students in Penn Foster Career School have access to an online library for use during their studies. Students can use this library to do the required research in the courses they complete or can use it for general reference and links to valuable resources. The library contains helpful research assistance, articles, databases, books, and Web links. A librarian is available to answer questions on general research-related topics via email and to assist students in research activities during their studies with Penn Foster Career School International.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.