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


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
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Put in padding and shaping materials.
Assemble garment parts and join parts with basting stitches, using needles and thread or sewing machines.
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.
Position patterns of garment parts on fabric, and cut fabric along outlines, using scissors.
Develop, copy, or adapt designs for garments, and design patterns to fit measurements, applying knowledge of garment design, construction, styling, and fabric.
Maintain garment drape and proportions as alterations are performed.
Measure customers, using tape measures, and record measurements.
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.
Fit and study garments on customers to determine required alterations.
Repair or replace defective garment parts such as pockets, zippers, snaps, buttons, and linings.
Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
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.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
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.
Design Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
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.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Visualization The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
Finger Dexterity The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
Arm-Hand Steadiness The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
Oral Comprehension The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Control Precision The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Near Vision The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Oral Expression The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Manual Dexterity The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
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.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Time Management Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.