A dressmaker


Dressmakers design, make or fit, alter, repair tailored, bespoke or hand-made garments from textile fabrics, light leather, fur and other material for women and children. They produce made-to-measure wearing apparel according to customer’s or garment manufacturer’s specifications. They are able to read and understand size charts, details surrounding finished measurements etc.

Excludes tailor.

The duties of a dressmaker include, but are not limited to:

  • Ordering supplies and materials needed for projects, including fabric, buttons, thread, and other materials
  • Communicating with clients about design details, fabric options, and pricing information
  • Taking measurements and drafting a pattern based on the client’s measurements and style preferences
  • Sewing garments according to the client’s measurements and specifications
  • Cutting fabric with pinking shears to prevent fraying
  • Sewing garments together using sewing machines and other equipment
  • Stitching hems and seams, and sewing buttons and other fasteners onto garments
  • Adding embellishments such as lace, beads, or sequins to garments
  • Cutting fabric into patterns based on customer specifications and making alterations as needed

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to dressmaker:

custom dressmaker
bespoke dressmaker
couture dressmaker

Working conditions

Dressmakers typically work in small shops or at home, and they may work long hours to meet deadlines. They may also travel to meet with clients or to attend trade shows. Dressmakers typically work alone or with a small team of other dressmakers. They may have assistants who help with cutting fabric, sewing, and other tasks.

Dressmakers typically work regular business hours, but they may work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. The work can be stressful, and dressmakers may be under pressure to meet deadlines.

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma is usually the minimum educational requirement for a dressmaker. Some employers may prefer an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in fashion design or a related field.

Most dressmakers learn the specific skills and techniques they need for their role while on the job. Training may last for a few weeks to a few months, depending on the complexity of the role and the size of the company. Dressmakers who work for large retail stores may receive training in merchandising, customer service and other skills that are relevant to the job.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Dressmaker is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Dressmaker career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to dressmaker.

clothing CAD patternmaker
protective clothing apparel manufacturer

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of dressmaker. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of dressmaker with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

clothing CAD technician
clothing process control technician
textile sourcing merchandiser
textile chemical quality technician
textile quality technician

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of dressmaker.

  • Buttonholing: The methods of buttonholing using specialised buttonholing machines in order to make buttonholes to wearing apparel.
  • E-tailoring: The business model using softwares and technical applications in order to gather the information of clients for the manufacturing of bespoke products.
  • Properties of fabrics: The influence of chemical composition and molecular arrangement of yarn and fibre properties and fabric structure on the physical properties of textile fabrics; the different fibre types, their physical and chemical characteristics and different material characteristics; the materials used in different processes and the effect on materials as they are processed.
  • Standard sizing systems for clothing: Standard sizing systems for clothing developed by different countries. Differences among the systems and standards of different countries, the development of the systems according to the evolution of the shape of the human body and their usage in the clothing industry.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of dressmaker.

  • Manufacture wearing apparel products: Manufacture either mass-product or bespoke wearing apparels of various types, assembling and joining together wearing apparel components using processes such as sewing, gluing, bonding. Assemble wearing apparel components using stitches, seams such as collars, sleeves, top fronts, top backs, pockets.
  • Distinguish accessories: Distinguish accessories in order to determine differences among them. Evaluate accessories based on their characteristics and their application in wearing apparel manufacturing.
  • Use textile technique for hand-made products: Using textile technique to produce hand-made products, such as carpets, tapestry, embroidery, lace, silk screen printing, wearing apparel, etc.
  • Manage briefs for clothing manufacturing: Manage briefs from clients for the manufacturing of wearing apparel. Collect customers’ demands and prepare them into specifications for the production.
  • Distinguish fabrics: Distinguish fabrics in order to determine differences among them. Evaluate fabrics based on their characteristics and their application in wearing apparel manufacturing.
  • Alter wearing apparel: Alter wearing apparel repairing or adjusting it to the clients/manufacturing specifications. Perform altering by hand or using equipment.
  • Measure the human body for wearing apparel: Measure the human body using conventional methods by hand with the tailor meter or using scanning technologies.
  • Make technical drawings of fashion pieces: Make technical drawings of wearing apparel, leather goods and footwear including both technical and engineering drawings. Use them to communicate or to convey design ideas and manufacturing details to pattern makers, technologists, toolmakers, and equipment producers or to other machine operators for sampling and production.
  • Cut fabrics: Cut fabrics and other wearing apparel materials considering measures, placement of the fabrics in the cutting table in multiple layers, and making the most efficient usage of the fabric avoiding waste. Cut fabrics by hand, or using electric knives, or other cutting tools depending on the fabric. Use computerised systems or automatic cutting machines.
  • Sew pieces of fabric: Operate basic or specialised sewing machines whether domestic or industrial ones, sewing pieces of fabric, vinyl or leather in order to manufacture or repair wearing apparels, making sure the threads are selected according to specifications.
  • Make made-to-measure garments: Make garments and other wearing apparel according to specific measures and tailored patterns.
  • Draw sketches to develop textile articles using softwares: Draw sketches to develop textiles or wearing apparel using softwares. They create visualisations of the motives, patterns or products in order to be manufactured.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of dressmaker. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Manufacturing of children clothing: The specificities of manufacturing clothing for children, considering the sizes and adaptations required in the manufacturing process such as cutting, types of fabrics, patterns, and quality.
  • Mass customisation: Process of modifying wide-market goods and services to satisfy a specific customer need in order to produce wearing apparels within e-commerce, lean and supply-chain management affairs.
  • CAD for garment manufacturing: Softwares of computer aided design for garment manufacturing which allow create 2 or 3 dimensional drawings.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of dressmaker. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Embroider fabrics: Embroider fabrics of different proveniences or finished articles by using embroidery machines or by hand.
  • Create mood boards: Create mood boards for fashion or interior design collections, gathering different sources of inspirations, sensations, trends, and textures, discussing with the people involved in the project to make sure that the shape, design, colours, and the global genre of the collections fit the order or the related artistic project.
  • Create patterns for garments: Create patterns for garments using pattern making softwares or by hand from sketches provided by fashion designers or product requirements. Create patterns for different sizes, styles, and components of the garments.
  • Analyse scanned data of the body: Analyse 3D scanned data for the development of prototypes, of avatars, for the creation of size charts, the garment pattern modification, alteration and manipulation, and for testing fit.
  • Draw sketches to develop textile articles: Draw sketches to develop textiles or wearing apparel by hand. They create visualisations of the motives, patterns or products in order to be manufactured.
  • Decorate textile articles: Decorate wearing apparels and made up textile articles by hand or using machines. Decorate textile articles with ornaments, braided cords, golden yarns, soutaches, jewellery, and cristals.
  • Use 3D scanners for clothing: Use different 3D body scanners and softwares to capture the shape and size of the human body in order to produce 3D body model for the creation of avatars and mannequins.
  • Sew underwear: Sew underwear striving for neat seams and aesthetical finishings. Combine good hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, and physical and mental stamina.
  • Bundle fabrics: Bundle fabrics and place several cut components together in a single package. Join related products and items together. Sort the cut fabrics and add them with the accessories required for assembling. Care for the adequate transportation to the sewing lines.
  • Pleat fabrics: Apply pleating processes to fabrics and wearing apparel products following adequate procedures and using specific equipment for the purpose.

ISCO group and title

7531 – Tailors, dressmakers, furriers and hatters

  1. Dressmaker – ESCO
  2. Dressmaker | Explore careers – National Careers Service
  3. Dressmaker Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  4. Featured image: By Tadeáš Bednarz – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on October 15, 2022

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