Studying at Sewafrica is only a starting point. Graduation can unzip opportunities into the world of fashion.

photo photoTailors and dressmakers design, make, alter or repair clothing. They may specialise in certain garments.

Alternative Titles

  • Bespoke Tailor
  • Boutique Dressmaker
  • Custom Tailor
  • Dressmaker
  • Tailor

Tasks & Duties

Tailors and dressmakers may do some or all of the following:

  • discuss customer requirements
  • take customers' measurements
  • estimate how much the garment will cost to make
  • source materials
  • mark and cut the material according to the design
  • tack (loosely stitch) the garment pieces together
  • sew the garment pieces together
  • put in the padding and shaping materials
  • fit the garment on the customer
  • do garment alterations
  • design or alter patterns
  • run their own business.

Skills & Knowledge

Tailors and dressmakers need to have:

  • clothing design skills
  • knowledge of different fashions
  • knowledge of fabric types, colours and fabric care
  • sewing skills and knowledge of tailoring techniques
  • knowledge of different sewing equipment and methods
  • understanding of garment construction and pattern making skills
  • knowledge of human body shapes
  • cutting skills
  • maths skills for making calculations and measuring
  • good communication and listening skills, and the ability to interpret a client's requirements
  • organisational and problem-solving skills.

Tailors and dressmakers who run their own business also need to have accounting and business skills

Personal Qualities

Tailors and dressmakers need to be:

  • creative
  • quick and neat
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • practical
  • patient
  • able to work well under pressure
  • reliable
  • able to be honest with their clients about how clothes look on them.

Physical Requirements

Tailors and dressmakers need to have good hand-eye co-ordination, good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses) and a good sense of colour.

Entry Requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a tailor or a dressmaker. However, a National Certificate in Clothing Manufacture, a Diploma and/or Advanced Diploma in Fashion Design and Technology, or a Certificate in Fashion may be useful.

Secondary Education

Entry into a tertiary training programme requires at least a Grade 12 Certificate equivalent passes in English and maths, and a portfolio of work. Other useful subjects include clothing and textiles, art and technical drawing.

The SEWAFRICA course provides the foundation skills for dressmaking in the first year by providing practical application tuition in reading commercial patterns, pattern making, design and garment construction using domestic machines. Grade 11 allows immediate access, if a student has less than a grade 11 a student may be accepted on review of age and previous experience and school subjects and results.

Training on the Job

It is possible to work alongside an experienced tailor or dressmaker and learn tailoring, while undertaking a National Certificate in Clothing Manufacture.

Useful Experience

Experience working in the clothing industry is useful, as is taking introductory courses in design, sewing, tailoring or pattern making.

Working Conditions

Tailors and dressmakers work in their own homes, workrooms, factories or showrooms, which are well-lit. They may travel to visit clients to show fabric ranges and do fittings; if working for a large company, they may also travel to visit clients in other areas. Tailors and dressmakers spend long periods sitting and they are often required to work to deadlines.

Equipment

Equipment tailors and dressmakers may use includes:

  • industrial sewing machines and overlockers
  • clothing patterns, fabric, thread and trimmings
  • shears, pins, measuring tape and tailor's chalk
  • a tailor's dummy (a model of a body to hang clothes on)
  • pressing equipment such as an iron
  • a cutting table
  • office equipment such as a telephone and a cellphone.

Hours

Tailors and dressmakers work full or part-time hours. Self-employed tailors and dressmakers may work weekends, evenings or irregular hours.

Contact with People

Tailors and dressmakers work independently without supervision and interact with customers. They may liaise with fabric wholesalers, clothing markers and cutters and factory managers. They may also supervise trainee tailors and dressmakers.

Career Progression

Experienced tailors and dressmakers may start their own business.