Tailor / Sewer / Dressmaker

How to Become a Tailor / Sewer / Dressmaker
Tailor or Dressmaker Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of a Tailor
Tailor / Dressmaker Salaries
Influential Professionals in this Field
Leading Organizations in this Field
Top Cities for Tailor / Sewer / Dressmaker Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Tailor / Sewer / Dressmaker

Throughout history, tailors, sewers and dressmakers have always been important, serving both the elite and the backbone of society (the general populace). Some of the most famous dressmakers worked for Marie Antoinette, and some of the most famous tailors dressed King Henry VIII (in his younger years, he was considered progressive in the world of fashion). Tailors', sewers' and dressmakers' positions within the general public helped to fuel both the industrial revolution and changes to labor laws both in Europe and the United States. Today, many who had beginnings as tailors, sewers and dressmakers are world-renowned designers who drive the forces of fashion.

So how does one go about becoming a tailor, sewer or dressmaker? Most jobs require at least a high school diploma, GED or equivalent. From there, those wishing to pursue this field should attend a post-secondary vocational school where they will learn the technological and methodological processes involved within these professions.

After completing one's education, he or she must either train on the job, or complete an apprenticeship, which usually lasts for a duration of two years.

What does a Tailor do?

There is a clear distinction between the job duties of those manufacturing clothing for large scale retailers and those who are considered "apparel workers." The former requires a lot of mechanical work, and typically mirrors those operating within the manufacturing industry.

Apparel workers might work in a myriad of settings, anything from a private boutique, to an alterations business (sometimes even associated with dry cleaners), to large scale factories. Apparel workers typically cut fabric, sew, or design and alter custom clothing. Alterations can also include garment repair.

Within the realm of clothing repair and alteration, there are a variety of opportunities. There are boutiques that do nothing other than alter and repair wedding gowns and tuxedos. Other alterations specialists might work in a more generic capacity, completing tasks varying in difficulty, anything from hemming a pair of pants to taking in a dress.

Because of the variety of opportunities within this field, once trained, a tailor, sewer or dressmaker can easily take on additional endeavors or, if working generically, decide to specialize.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Tailor?

Depending on your position within these fields, you will need either a combination or all of the following skills: good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity, physical and mental stamina, knowledge of computer basics and interpersonal skills.

Without good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity, sewing and cutting results could be disastrous. Similarly, if you're hemming pants and hem the cuff so that it ends up being uneven, your customer isn't likely to be pleased. If you're working on machines, a lack of good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity could lead to personal injury. You also need good eyesight, though with glasses and contact lenses, anyone can have near-perfect vision.

Physical and mental stamina is necessary as you must be able to perform repetitive tasks for long periods of time. Whether you're working in a small boutique or a large factory, this is the case. If you get bored easily, tailoring, sewing and dressmaking may not be right for you.

Knowledge of computer basics is imperative for those designing or interpreting patterns. Also, many machines within this industry incorporate computer systems, so a basic understanding is necessary in order to work the machines.

Interpersonal skills are mandatory for any tailor, sewer or dressmaker. Whether these skills come into play with coworkers and team members, or with customers, this skill set is imperative to your success as a tailor, sewer or dressmaker.

How much does a Tailor or Dressmaker make?

Depending on the type of job you hold, you might make a different salary. For example, a custom tailor might earn a biweekly paycheck of $782.22 (that's less taxes and social security). That amount is the median based on the salary range in the United States for custom tailors: $15,793 - $36,741 (fifty percent make between $20,370 and $31,335.)

A hand sewer might make between $13,946 and $31,604, with fifty percent making $18,000 - $27,243, and might expect a biweekly paycheck of $697.64. A shop alteration tailor might make a bit more than a custom tailor.

As you can see these salary ranges, recorded in October of 2008, differ depending on your job title. However, it seems as though an overall median range sits between about twenty and twenty-five thousand dollars a year.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Nick Holland followed in his father's footsteps (his father was a tailor in the 1970's) and now he designs men's clothing for Holland Esquire. Both Kimberly Hore and June Robertson work at June Designs, a boutique that designs and makes the costumes worn on the popular television show, Dancing With the Stars. All three of these individuals are stellar examples of contemporary persons in this field who have risen to public notoriety due to their experiences tailoring, sewing and dressmaking.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

For those wishing to work in a factory setting, ManPower Staffing is a leading source for jobs. Jobs outside of factories and manufacturing can be sought in small boutiques throughout the country.

What are the top cities for Tailor / Sewer / Dressmaker jobs?

While ManPower Staffing offers employment in Endicott, New York, there are other locations in the United States where one can find employment in this field. New York City and Los Angeles are two of the country's leading fashion centers, both for personal fashion and for costume design and production. Interested in working for a small boutique? Every city has boutiques, and therefore, tailoring, sewing and dressmaking is a great field for anyone who already has a city in mind, or perhaps for someone who wants to work in a number of cities throughout the course of his or her career. This opportunity for variation can help offset the repetitive nature of the work itself.

Other Careers of Interest

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