A tailor may also be a skilled pattern maker. Pattern making is a highly valued, technical skill, on the same level as a couturier or a fashion designer. Tailors and dressmakers can both perform simple alterations.
A tailor needs to have a strong understanding of fabrics, patterns and stitching techniques, they need to be adept at hand and machine sewing, and they must be able to make alterations, as well as produce clothes from scratch. The clothes usually made or altered by a tailor are suits, jackets and trousers. To achieve the perfect fit, a client needs to be accurately measured, the pattern cut and the material sewn for each custom design.
Clothing today is mass-produced and affordable, which has decreased the need for a tailor, however, people still use tailors to make items for special occasions, and the some still regularly employ bespoke tailors to create one-of-a-kind garments.
Many women could make simple garments at home, but they went to a dressmaker for more elaborate, formal items, which were copied from fashion houses around the world. As more women looked to become self-sufficient, they turned to dressmaking as a career. It was considered socially acceptable and a decent way for a woman to earn a wage.
A dressmaker needs measuring skills, must be able to sew – by machine and hand – and because they work closely with customers, it’s essential to be a good communicator. They should be able to create a garment from start to finish, and be able to alter and repair ready-made items to get the ideal fit.