Dressmaker

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Seamstress, seamster

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

Salary range: £13,500 to £22,000

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How to become a dressmaker

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
  • short specialised training courses
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College

You could take a college course before looking for work. Courses include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Fashion
  • Level 2 Diploma in Fashion and Clothing
  • Level 3 Award in Creative Craft using Dressmaking

Entry requirements

You may need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

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Apprenticeship

You may be able to get into this job through an intermediate apprenticeship in fashion and textiles, or by doing a garment maker advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

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Direct application

You can apply directly to work as a dressmaker. You would need experience and the ability to demonstrate to employers and clients that you have the skills they are looking for.

Other routes

You can find short courses in dressmaking techniques at adult education centres and with private training providers. These include how to use a sewing machine, pattern making and pattern cutting, They may not lead to a qualification, but they will teach you some of the skills needed for this kind of work.

Some dressmakers teach themselves through online guides or books. 

More information

Career tips

Experience in art and design can help you get into this job.

Further information

You can find out more about working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

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

Working environment

You could work in a workshop or from home.

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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.