Dressmakers specialize in fitting and sewing together women’s clothing and clothing accessories, including dresses, evening gowns, skirts, coats, and jackets. They may help customers select ready-made patterns, colors, and fabrics or work with a fashion designer to create an exclusive, custom-fitted piece of apparel. Dressmakers cut fabrics to match patterns and sew clothing using a needle and thread or a sewing machine. They also repair and alter clothing that has been damaged or no longer fits the customer.
Many vocational and technical schools offer diplomas or certificate programs in dressmaking, apparel construction, men’s tailoring, or patternmaking. Students are taught sewing and stitching techniques, the basics of patternmaking, and the elements of fashion design. A small number of schools offer online dressmaking and design programs. Associate degree programs in fashion design offer more comprehensive coursework in order to prepare students for careers in the ready-to-wear or custom clothing design industry.
Dressmakers are employed by department stores, formal wear shops, bridal boutiques, tailors, and dry-cleaning facilities, as well as clothing manufacturers, where they prepare clothing items for mass production, design studios, and theatrical production companies. According to the Bureau of U.S. Labor, almost half of the dressmakers employed in the country are self-employed.