A tailor


Tailors design, make or fit, alter, repair tailored, bespoke or hand-made garments from textile fabrics, light leather, fur and other material, or make hats or wigs for men. 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.

Includes people producing different clothing within their specialisation from the design to the patternmaking up to the sweing and finishined custom-made (bespoke) clothes for men.
Includes people producing the whole garment or working in a team where each member has a specialism. Excludes dressmaker.

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

  • Measuring clients, taking body measurements, and recording vital statistics for use in creating clothing designs
  • Adding fitting details such as buttonholes or pockets to garments
  • Creating patterns using computer software or hand drafting methods
  • Using software to create custom patterns based on measurements taken from a client or standard sizes provided by a designer
  • Demonstrating how to use fabrics and detailing the care instructions so that customers know how to properly maintain the garment
  • Reviewing samples of fabrics from suppliers, testing fabric quality and colorfastness, and selecting the best materials for garments based on cost, durability, appearance, and comfort
  • Drafting patterns for suits, dresses, shirts, pants, and other garments using computer-assisted design (CAD) equipment or traditional methods such as paper and pencil 
  • Making small alterations to existing garments such as shortening waistlines or sleeves
  • Recommending fabric types and patterns that will flatter a customer’s figure and lifestyle needs

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to tailor:

garment worker
custom dressmaker
custom tailor
bespoke tailor
custom sewer
couture alterations dressmaker
garment maker
dressmaker of men, women, and children’s clothing
alterations expert
alterations sewer
suit maker

Working conditions

Tailors typically work in small shops, often with only one or two other workers. They may work in the back room of a clothing store or in a separate workshop. Some tailors are self-employed and work from home. They usually work regular hours, but may work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. Because of the nature of the work, which requires a great deal of precision and attention to detail, tailors may find their work to be stressful at times.

Minimum qualifications

Tailors need at least a high school diploma. Some tailors choose to pursue a two-year associate degree in fashion design or fashion merchandising. These programs teach students the basics of pattern construction, garment construction, color theory, fabric selection and garment construction.

Tailors receive on-the-job training from their employers. They may learn how to use the machinery and equipment in the shop, as well as the specific processes and procedures the company follows.

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.

Tailor is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Tailor career path

Similar occupations

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

clothing CAD patternmaker
clothing alteration machinist

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of tailor. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of tailor 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 tailor.

  • Buttonholing: The methods of buttonholing using specialised buttonholing machines in order to make buttonholes to wearing apparel.
  • Marker making: Marker diagram of a precise arrangement of pattern pieces for a specific style and the sizes to be cut from a single spread. Markers can be made by manually tracing master patterns onto the fabric or paper or by manipulating and plotting computerised pattern images. Process of determining the most efficient layout of pattern pieces for a specified style, fabric and distribution of sizes.
  • E-tailoring: The business model using softwares and technical applications in order to gather the information of clients for the manufacturing of bespoke products.
  • Fabric spreading in the fashion industry: Preparatory operation for cutting textile pieces which consists of laying piles of cloth on top of the other in a pre-determined direction and relationship between the right and the wrong side of the cloth.
  • Apparel manufacturing technology: Traditional and advanced apparel manufacturing technologies. Technologies including processes, machinery, etc. in order to compile and design pattern requirements, contribute to product costing and finalise assembly sequence and quality assurance criteria.
  • History of fashion: Costumes and the cultural traditions around clothing.
  • 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 tailor.

  • 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.
  • Evaluate garment quality: Evaluating stitching, construction, attachments, fasteners, embellishments, shading within the garment; evaluating pattern continuity, matching; evaluating tapes and linings.
  • Distinguish accessories: Distinguish accessories in order to determine differences among them. Evaluate accessories based on their characteristics and their application in wearing apparel manufacturing.
  • Sew textile-based articles: Sew different products based on textiles and wearing apparel articles. Combine good hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, and physical and mental stamina.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Iron textiles: Press and iron in order to shape or flatten textiles giving them their final finishing appearance. Iron by hand or with steam pressers.
  • 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.
  • Grade patterns for wearing apparel: Grading patterns by performing processes of resizing initial patterns in order to create nest of patterns to fit various body types and sizes.
  • Operate garment manufacturing machines: Operate and monitor machines which make miscellaneous wearing apparel articles. Operate and monitor machines that fold cloth into measured length, and measure size of pieces.
  • 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.
  • Design wearing apparel: Use analytical skills, creativity, and recognise future trends in order to design wearing apparel.
  • Prepare production prototypes: Prepare early models or prototypes in order to test concepts and replicability possibilities. Create prototypes to assess for pre-production tests.
  • Manufacture male suits: Manufacture suits for men considering traditional cuts and tailoring techniques. Perform bespoke tailoring from measurement, fabric selection, cutting, assembling and fitting.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of tailor. 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.
  • 3D body scanning technologies: The principles and usage of technologies for 3D body scanning used to capture the size and shape of the human body.
  • 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 tailor. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

ISCO group and title

7531 – Tailors, dressmakers, furriers and hatters

  1. Tailor – ESCO
  2. Tailor | Explore careers – National Careers Service
  3. Tailor Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  4. Featured image: By Rprakash1782 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Last updated on October 15, 2022

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