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Seamstress: Career Definition, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a seamstress. Learn about the education requirements, salary and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

What is a Seamstress

Seamstresses alter, create, repair and restyle garments. They are skilled at both needle and thread sewing and using a sewing machine. Other tasks include taking measurements and taking out seems to alter clothing to fit clients. Little education is required to get started as a seamstress. In fact, postsecondary training is optional, though specific trade skills are critical. Read below to find out more about this creative field.

Education Required High school diploma; vocational training program in sewing is optional
Key Skills Customer service, dexterity, hand-eye coordination, attention to detail
Job Growth (2018-2028)* -6% (for all tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers)
Median Salary (2018)* $28,650 (for all hand sewers), $31,000 (for all tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do as a Seamstress?

A seamstress makes alterations, mends, patches or repairs clothing. You'll perform garment restyling and dress making as requested by customers, according to their taste and measurements. The Occupational Information Network (O*Net) stated that you may be a hand sewer or a fabric mender of larger, non-garment fabrics, such as rugs, flags, boat sails and upholstery (www.onetonline.org). You're initially responsible for determining customers' preferences on materials and patterns.

While preparing garments, you'll pin fabric parts together for final sewing by hand or using sewing machines. You may draft dress patterns according to a customer's measurements while adhering to a specified style. Some other tasks may include adding buttons, eyelets, labels, emblems, lace or sequins.

What Should I Know about this Career?

There are a number of positions working on clothing, fabrics and other textiles. As a seamstress, your task will simply be to sew. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job projections for all tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers are expected to see a six percent decline from 2018-2028. There were approximately 21,150 people identified as tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers in 2018. The top industries with the most seamstresses employed were clothing stores and personal and household goods repair, as of May 2018.

The BLS reports median annual salaries of $31,000 for tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers, as of May 2018. Hand sewers made a lesser salary of roughly $28,650. The highest wages were offered in Minnesota and the District of Columbia for tailors in 2018, the BLS reported, while hand sewers earned the most in Oregon and Kentucky.

What Are the Education Requirements?

A high school diploma is all that is necessary to become a seamstress; however, some vocational training in design, sewing and measurements at a professional school and work experience could be important to employers. You must know differences in fabrics, along with how to work with them. You need skills in sewing techniques. Practical knowledge includes connecting threads and patterns to color and style, as well as the ability to follow a pattern when cutting fabrics.

Much of this training can be learned on the job; however, a master seamstress certificate or an associate degree program in fashion design can be beneficial for supervisory positions. Also, if you'd like to start your own businesses, take college courses in business and management.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those who enjoy the hands on work of sewing may also enjoy other related jobs such as gem and diamond working, or precious metals working. Being a jeweler may also provide individuals with the chance to create fine pieces of apparel. If you are interested in the creation of clothing design, fashion designers are trained to start from scratch, creating new designs, making prototypes and then marketing them.