What does a Seamstress or Dressmaker do?

If you would like to pursue a career as a seamstress or dressmaker, formal training will help you advance in your career and is sometimes required for employment. If you’re like most people, a love for sewing and textiles started as a child. Perhaps you watched a parent or grandparent shop in the fabric department at your local box store and transform the material into a beautiful dress. It truly takes amazing talent and creativity to fashion a wearable garment out of a simple piece of fabric.

A seamstress wears many, many hats. Typically, when you think of the responsibilities of a seamstress, you immediately think of “one who sews.” But, there’s more to it than just that. A seamstress often begins with an idea or vision in their mind. They must then design, sew and then fit it properly to a specific body type. Alterations are also a part of the seamstress’s job description.

A seamstress or dressmaker must be the creative type, as well as, good with the details. Often, details on a garment is what makes it unique and memorable. How’s your math skills? Taking precise measurements are an integral part of sewing as you measure fabric or take body measurements to tailor or customize a fit. In addition, good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity is necessary. Excellent communication skills are required to articulate garment fabrications, proportion and fit with customers, whether you are describing details or receiving requests.

Seamstresses can be found in a variety of locations. Department stores, bridal boutiques, dry cleaners, uniform shops, fashion designers and fabric stores employ seamstresses, as well as, alterations shops, concierge services and clothing manufacturers. A majority of experienced seamstresses eventually open their own alterations business.

Upon graduation from a certificate program in sewing and dressmaking, you should have the knowledge needed to begin your career, as you cut fabric using a pattern, use a sewing machine and scissors properly, hem garments, do hand stitching, recognize fabrications and textiles, care for garments,  perform apparel alterations, in addition to, sewing on pockets, zippers, lace and sequins, buttons and other embellishments. You must know how to efficiently sew on a machine and by hand. With today’s technological advances, computer skills are a plus.

Are you up-to-date on the latest fashions and trends? As a dressmaker, you will be expected to sew garments relevant to today’s market and may be asked to re-design or alter vintage clothing. A current portfolio is often needed to showcase your talents. This gives prospective employers a sample of alterations you have completed or original pieces you have created.

To begin, apprenticeship opportunities will help you gain the experience and confidence you need to succeed. If you decide to start you own business, building your clientele will be crucial. Mostly, this is established by word of mouth, making every job an important one.  Business management and marketing skills are also required if you are self-employed.

The key to a successful seamstress and dressmaker is the proper training and a variety of experience. Don’t hesitate to sign on for some extra training and certifications whenever possible. If you are interested in this career field, please see our list of the best Online Schools for Sewing/Dressmaking programs.