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Fashion & textiles

Dressmaker

Dressmakers create and alter clothing like dresses, trousers and shirts for their customers.

Annual Salary

variable

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

36 to 38 a week

You could work: in your own business; managing your own hours

Day to day tasks

You could:

  • meet with a client to discuss their needs
  • give advice on fabrics, patterns and styles
  • take measurements
  • cost the work
  • create a garment pattern or use a ready made one
  • cut out the fabric using the pattern pieces
  • tack the fabric pieces together for a fitting
  • make samples or 'toiles'
  • operate a sewing machine or stitch by hand
  • fit the garment and make any adjustments to suit the client

Working environment

You could work in a workshop or from home.

You can get into this job through:

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

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

  • Level 2 Certificate or Diploma in Fashion
  • Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Fashion and Textiles
  • T Level in Craft and Design

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
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level
For more information
Apprenticeship

You could get into this job through a garment maker advanced apprenticeship.

You may be able to gain some of the skills you would need through a sewing machinist intermediate 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
For more information
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

Further information

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

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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 specialise in making or altering particular garments like children's clothes, dance costumes or wedding dresses.

You could also work in costume production for theatre, TV and film.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • customer service skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to organise your time and workload
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to measure and mark up accurately
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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