Our story


Made Institute owner, Rachel Ford, started teaching couture sewing classes out of her live/work loft space in Old City, Philadelphia in 2012. She wanted to share the beautiful techniques she had learned from her 10 years at the Philadelphia Opera to this city's growing number of makers and designers. Word of these independently run classes spread, and what had started as a 2 student class in corsetry, quickly expanded to numbers that outgrew her loft apartment. Students wanted more than just a sewing class to make a project. They wanted to enter the world of fashion design and the sewing industry. She realized that by growing this concept, she could offer a full class series that would teach even the most beginner sewers how to make garments that they were proud of. Now in becoming Made Institute, Rachel and her amazing staff can offer not only skills to sewing enthusiasts, but also a full curriculum of professional fashion design courses that get students to realize their entrepreneurial goals.

One of a Kind


We are Philadelphia’s premier independent fashion design and sewing school. With the belief that fashion and high-level sewing should be attainable, we keep our classes affordable, while giving students full access to the growing Philadelphia fashion community. Made Institute is a one-stop resource offering a full circle ecosystem of education, product development, co-working memberships and connections to small batch manufacturing. 

We’ve specifically tailored our classes to help aspiring designers develop and launch fashion lines of their own. Through small class sizes, hands-on teaching, and one on one mentoring, students receive quality classes at a cost and pace that works for them. 



Dear future students,

The choice to embark on this journey, and educate yourselves in a field that you're passionate about is very brave. I watch our students go through our classes, juggling children, partners, parents, and work. I'm so inspired by how they manage to carve out the time to invest in their future selves; that designer that is going to succeed! They are filled with excitement, doubt, talent, and questions...how do I start towards my goals? 

You are not alone!

The fashion designer of today is a multi talented artist, marketer, business owner, and maker. Rather than yearning for a desk position at a corporate conglomerate, we dream of creating a mark of our own. We no longer assume to outsource our manufacturing overseas, instead we choose to educate ourselves in the living tradition of sewing, pattern drafting, and draping. This connects us directly to our product and customer like no one else could. Combining our artistic vision with perseverance, we change the sometimes exclusionary and wasteful fashion landscape to something more personal and tangible.

Made Institute stands by the belief that through education and community building, small business owners and makers can revive the once thriving garment industry that Philadelphia was known for. The focus then being returned to beautiful quality, personal detail, and a story behind every piece of clothing.

The Designer Development Program is the first, of what we hope to become many, programs offered at Made Institute. It combines a full curriculum of industry relevant sewing and technical design classes with high level design, illustration, and business courses specific to the entrepreneur's experience. 

Our teachers and guest speakers are the best fashion and sewing talent that the Philadelphia area has to offer, creating a deep pool of resources for our students to draw from long after their time with us.

Come by, see the studio, meet with us, and become a part of this exciting community.

Can't wait to meet you!

-Rachel Ford

Made Institute

Made for the future.

Made Institute is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, State Board of Private Licensed Schools, located at 333 Market St. Harrisburg, PA 17126.