When someone needs an article of clothing made to fit specific designs, or modified in a certain way, or simply repaired, they contact a Seamstress. These are professionals with the necessary skills to manufacture and sew together almost any article of clothing by following specific patterns and designs. Most Seamstresses work in tailor shops or clothing design studios. However, they may be self-employed and work as freelancers.
A Seamstress might be known as a dressmaker or hand sewer. They are often considered the female counterparts of Tailors, however, there’s a slight difference between the two. Seamstresses sew together fabrics and pieces of clothes from scratch, while a Tailor works at an apparel store and fixes pre-made suits and other articles of clothing to fix the specific measures of a customer.
Since their job revolves mostly around sewing, a Seamstress must be proficient in all sorts of techniques and tools of the trade. They must also be familiarized with different types of fabrics, understanding their differences and the techniques necessary to work with each one.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Seamstresses are required to complete.
- Making women’s garments (e.g. dresses, blouses, shirts, pants, skirts, and coats):
- Marking patterns and designs or using pre-designed ones to cut fabric into the necessary shapes;
- being able to draft, drape, and translate designs from concept to delivery;
- being able to imagine how the end garment will look like from the pattern design; and
- making samples out of cheaper fabrics in order to check the design and fit before cutting an expensive fabric.
- Altering and repairing garments:
- Fixing torn or damaged clothing, as well as adjusting clothes to better fit customers; and
- ensuring proper measurements, adjustments, and fittings.
- Working directly with customers:
- Discussing with customers regarding their desired specifications for clothes;
- giving customers recommendations regarding fabrics, colours, and styles;
- showing customers samples of different fabrics and explaining the qualities of each one;
- taking measurements; and
- ensuring alterations are done on time for when the customer returns.
- Defining technical specifications for the garments and being knowledgeable about fabrics, patterns, shapes, and colours:
- Selecting and testing different fabrics;
- knowing about pattern-making and fittings, adapting and creating patterns as needed; and
- keeping up-to-date with the latest fashion trends and techniques, as well as finding the best quality fabrics.
- Using specialized equipment such as sewing machines and irons.
- Organizing and maintaining fabrics, trims, and other materials.
- Preparing a budget based on time of work, costs of fabrics, and any special materials necessary.
- Creating, altering, and repairing garments.
- Working with different fabrics.
- Estimating costs and materials.
- Maintaining a network of customers, vendors, and suppliers.
The average Seamstress salary is $37,623 per year or $19 per hour. This is around 1.1 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $26,000 while most experienced workers make up to $53,000. These results are based on 127 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Creativity, along with a strong artistic and fashion sense.
- Interpersonal and communication skills:
- Having outstanding listening skills in order to understand and follow the customer’s requirements;
- displaying strong customer service skills and ensuring strong relationships with customers, vendors, and suppliers; and
- being able to work cohesively with other staff members.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Being able to work under pressure in a fast-paced environment;
- having time management and prioritization skills in order to satisfy the demand; and
- being highly responsible, reliable, and organized.
- Outstanding manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination; ability to distinguish colors:
- Possessing extensive knowledge and skills in all sorts of sewing techniques; and
- having strong attention to detail.
- Self-motivated and willing to work independently with minimal supervision.
There is no specific entry route to becoming a Seamstress. Generally, being a Seamstress is a skill-based profession, so the ability to sew is usually the only requirement for the job. However, depending on the level and type of work to be done, some employers may require applicants to possess specific qualifications. Courses in dressmaking, fashion, and pattern cutting will help the candidate develop the necessary skills. Like in many artistic lines of work, Seamstresses may put together a portfolio when applying for a new job in order to showcase their past projects.
Seamstresses may work on fashion studies, factories, and ateliers using their skills to put together pieces of clothes and dresses. They may also work on theaters or movie studios designing costumes for different productions. Some professionals may even work with super specialized fabrics such as bulletproof vests.