Tailors, Dressmakers, and Custom Sewers

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Also known as:
Alterations Sewer, Alterations Tailor, Bridal Gown Fitter, Coat Cutter, Coat Maker, Couture Dressmaker, Dress Fitter, Fur Tailor, Garment Fitter, Suit Maker

Video transcript

Many steps come together to form the clothes on your back. Styles tend to make their way down a factory assembly line being cut, sewn, and pressed by many hands, followed by other garments made from the same pattern. But the most highly skilled of apparel workers - custom tailors and sewers - master each phase of the apparel process to produce made-to-measure garments for their clients.

Manual dexterity and good hand-eye coordination are essential qualities for success. Some custom tailors are "soup-to-nuts" professionals. They take measurements, create a design, make a pattern, cut the fabric to optimize beauty and avoid defects, and sew the pieces together by hand or machine.

Others specialize in one function, like hemming pants or pressing. They may also take measurements. Many custom tailors and sewers are employed by dry-cleaning establishments and department stores. Others are self-employed.

Custom sewers create clothing and non-clothing garments, such as draperies and pillow cushions, based on the specifications from their clients. They may specialize. For instance, they may only make baby bibs or draperies.

Retail stores mainly hire experienced custom tailors and sewers. They want them to understand fabrics, construction, and design. This training can be obtained in vocational school or on-the-job. Dry cleaning establishments will often hire inexperienced workers.

Unfortunately, the wages for custom tailors and sewers are relatively low. Also, positions are expected to decrease as mass-produced styles continue to gain popularity. This is a job that provides opportunity, however, for people with skills that translate across barriers.

Design, make, alter, repair, or fit garments.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Sew buttonholes and attach buttons to finish garments.

Estimate how much a garment will cost to make, based on factors such as time and material requirements.

Confer with customers to determine types of material and garment styles desired.

Fit, alter, repair, and make made-to-measure clothing, according to customers' and clothing manufacturers' specifications and fit, and applying principles of garment design, construction, and styling.

Examine tags on garments to determine alterations that are needed.

Position patterns of garment parts on fabric, and cut fabric along outlines, using scissors.

Put in padding and shaping materials.

Record required alterations and instructions on tags, and attach them to garments.

Assemble garment parts and join parts with basting stitches, using needles and thread or sewing machines.

Fit and study garments on customers to determine required alterations.

Make garment style changes, such as tapering pant legs, narrowing lapels, and adding or removing padding.

Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Economics and Accounting Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
Design Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Sales and Marketing Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
Time Management Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.