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Dressmaker Seamstress, seamster

Dressmakers create made-to-measure clothing like dresses, trousers and blouses for their customers. 

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £13,500 to £22,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements but you’ll need experience and the skills employers and clients want. Some dressmakers are self-taught.

You could take a college course to gain the skills you'll need to do this job.

Creative Skills has more information on starting a career in fashion and textiles.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent practical skills
  • to be able to imagine how designs will look and lay out pattern pieces
  • an eye for detail and good eyesight
  • a tactful approach with customers
  • accuracy when taking measurements and making calculations
  • colour-normal vision for matching threads and fabrics

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • discussing the client’s needs
  • giving the client advice on fabrics and patterns
  • taking measurements
  • changing an existing pattern, or creating a new pattern for the client
  • costing the work
  • using the pattern to cut out the fabric pieces
  • tacking the fabric pieces together for a fitting
  • making samples or ‘toiles’
  • using a sewing machine or sewing by hand
  • fitting the garment and making adjustments to create a perfect fit
  • keeping your accounts, if self-employed

4. Salary

Starter: £13,500 to £16,000

Experienced: £18,000 to £22,000

If you’re self-employed you’ll set your own rates.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 37 to 40 hours a week, including Saturdays. 

You’ll normally be based in a workshop or work from home. You may also spend some time visiting clients.

If self-employed, you’ll choose your own hours, depending on the amount of work and the deadlines you have.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could take on a supervisory role, move into a related career like fashion or textile buying, or become self-employed. 

You could also work in costume production for theatre, TV and film.

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Last updated: 14 December 2016