By day, Sarah Dash works at a bank. But in her downtime, her craft involves a needle and thread.

“I do alterations as a hobby and I’ve sewn for different people,” she says. “Sometimes I [also] make garments from scratch … I look at it more as a hobby, but at the same time I’m able to make money on the side.”

A 1994 Seneca College fashion graduate, Dash returned to the school last summer to upgrade her skills through the college’s part-time fashion studies program.

The program’s flexible schedule and specialized offerings attract a variety of students including hobbyists like Dash, says program co-ordinator Mary Duldouras.

“Maybe 20 per cent would be from industry,” she says. “The remaining 80 per cent is about half and half for people who are just taking it for their personal interest and gain, and those who are looking to change their careers and start their own businesses.”

Courses may be taken as one-offs, but students can also obtain a fashion studies certificate if they complete 10 part-time subjects, including six required core subjects. Students must begin with Basics of Garment Construction, a prerequisite for all the other subjects. In this course, students are introduced to the industrial sewing machine, simple patterns and basic fabric preparation. They then apply their newfound skills to construct two garments.

Dash says she especially enjoyed the demonstration aspect of the Ladies’ Suit Jackets course she took last summer.

In lieu of the certificate, students can also apply their courses toward recognitions of achievement in garment construction, pattern making and advanced couture sewing.

All classes include a combination of lecture and demonstration by instructors who have a background in the fashion industry.