Career Development

What Does a Tailor Do?

Find out what a tailor does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a tailor.

Tailors are responsible for creating and altering clothing. They may work on a single garment or piece at a time, or they may be tasked with completing an entire wardrobe from scratch. Regardless of the task at hand, tailors must have an eye for detail and a strong understanding of how different fabrics behave when being sewn together.

Tailor Job Duties

Tailors have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Measuring clients, taking body measurements, and recording vital statistics for use in creating clothing designs
  • Adding fitting details such as buttonholes or pockets to garments
  • Creating patterns using computer software or hand drafting methods
  • Using software to create custom patterns based on measurements taken from a client or standard sizes provided by a designer
  • Demonstrating how to use fabrics and detailing the care instructions so that customers know how to properly maintain the garment
  • Reviewing samples of fabrics from suppliers, testing fabric quality and colorfastness, and selecting the best materials for garments based on cost, durability, appearance, and comfort
  • Drafting patterns for suits, dresses, shirts, pants, and other garments using computer-assisted design (CAD) equipment or traditional methods such as paper and pencil 
  • Making small alterations to existing garments such as shortening waistlines or sleeves
  • Recommending fabric types and patterns that will flatter a customer’s figure and lifestyle needs

Tailor Salary & Outlook

Tailors’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of overtime.

  • Median Annual Salary: $38,000 ($18.27/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $60,500 ($29.09/hour)

The employment of tailors is expected to decline over the next decade.

The number of clothing stores has declined in recent years, as more people shop online or buy clothes from big-box retailers such as Walmart and Target. As a result, fewer tailors will be needed to repair clothing in retail establishments.

Tailor Job Requirements

A tailor typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Tailors need at least a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some tailors choose to pursue a two-year associate degree in fashion design or fashion merchandising. These programs teach students the basics of pattern construction, garment construction, color theory, fabric selection and garment construction.

Training & Experience: Tailors receive on-the-job training from their employers. They may learn how to use the machinery and equipment in the shop, as well as the specific processes and procedures the company follows.

Certifications & Licenses: Tailors often pursue certifications to show their expertise in a specific type of sewing and the skills needed to work with different types of fabrics.

Tailor Skills

Tailors need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Tailors communicate with their clients throughout the tailoring process. They must be able to explain the process and answer any questions their clients may have. They also communicate with their coworkers to ensure the client’s needs are met.

Attention to detail: Tailors must have excellent attention to detail to ensure they complete all aspects of a project correctly. This can include measuring the client accurately, cutting the fabric correctly and stitching the garment in the right place. Attention to detail can also help tailors ensure they complete all the steps of a project, such as making sure they clean their workspace before they leave for the day.

Creativity: Tailors often use their creativity to come up with new ideas for their clients. For example, a tailor may use their creativity to design a new style of clothing that their client has not tried before. This can help the tailor to find a new way to help their client look their best.

Organization: Tailors often work on multiple projects at once, so it’s important for them to be organized. This can help them prioritize their work and ensure they meet deadlines. Organization can also help tailors keep track of their materials and ensure they have everything they need to complete a project.

Adaptability: Tailors often work in fast-paced environments, so they need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances. This can mean adjusting their work schedule to meet deadlines or changing the way they approach a task to complete it more efficiently. Being adaptable can also mean adjusting to the needs of their customers, such as by altering the design of a garment to meet a customer’s preferences.

Tailor Work Environment

Tailors typically work in small shops, often with only one or two other workers. They may work in the back room of a clothing store or in a separate workshop. Some tailors are self-employed and work from home. They usually work regular hours, but may work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. Because of the nature of the work, which requires a great deal of precision and attention to detail, tailors may find their work to be stressful at times.

Tailor Trends

Here are three trends influencing how tailors work. Tailors will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Rise of the Makers

The rise of the makers is a trend that is changing the way we think about manufacturing. In the past, most people would have to rely on large factories to produce their products. However, with the rise of the makers, more and more people are starting to make their own products at home.

This shift is having a major impact on the tailoring industry. Tailors who are able to adapt to this trend will be in high demand as more and more people start making their own clothes. They will need help with patternmaking, fabric selection, and other tasks that are essential to creating custom-made clothing.

More People Are Looking for Custom Clothing

As consumers become more discerning, they are looking for clothing that is unique and tailored to their individual tastes. This has led to an increase in demand for custom clothing, which tailors can meet by offering made-to-measure options.

By providing made-to-measure options, tailors can attract new customers and keep current ones happy. In addition, made-to-measure clothing can be a great way to showcase your skills as a tailor and set yourself apart from the competition.

How to Become a Tailor

A tailor career can be a great way to start your fashion career. As a tailor, you’ll learn how to measure and fit clothing for customers, as well as repair damaged garments. This is a great opportunity to learn about different styles and fabrics, and to see how clothes are made.

You can also use your skills as a tailor to create your own designs and patterns. Many tailors go on to become designers or fashion entrepreneurs.

Advancement Prospects

Most tailors start out working in small shops or as part of a team of seamstresses in a large department store. As they gain experience, they may be promoted to head tailor, alterations manager, or custom clothier. Some tailors open their own shops.

Tailors with strong business skills may advance to management positions in which they oversee the work of other tailors. Those with exceptional sewing skills may become designers or patternmakers. Some tailors find work in related fields such as costume design or millinery.

Tailor Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we understand that looking your best is feeling your best. We are a high-end tailor shop that specializes in made-to-measure garments for both men and women. We are looking for an experienced tailor to join our team. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of 5 years of experience working as a tailor, and will be skilled in both hand-sewing and machine-sewing. He or she will be able to take precise measurements, and will have an eye for detail in order to create the perfect fit for each individual client.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve customers by providing expert advice on garment selection, taking accurate measurements, and performing alterations with a high level of precision and care
  • Maintain an organized work area and ensure that all tools and materials are in good working order
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest fashion trends and techniques in order to provide the best possible service to clients
  • Cut fabric according to pattern pieces and customer specifications, using scissors, shears, or electric cutting machines
  • Sew garments using sewing machines, sergers, or hand-sewing techniques, following patterns or customer instructions
  • Press seams and finished garments using irons, steamers, or pressing machines
  • Fit garments on customers or mannequins, making adjustments as necessary to achieve the perfect fit
  • Mark and cut fabric along alteration lines, using chalk, pins, or pattern templates
  • Hem, tuck, pleat, or take in garment sections to adjust for proper fit, using needle and thread or sewing machines
  • Replace zippers, buttons, snaps, or hooks and eyes, using needle and thread or sewing machines
  • Repair tears or holes in fabric, using patches, stitching, or other methods
  • Perform routine maintenance on sewing machines, such as oiling, cleaning, and changing needles and presser feet

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Proven experience as a tailor or seamstress
  • Excellent sewing skills, with knowledge of various stitching techniques
  • Creativity and ability to develop new designs
  • Aptitude for working with patterns and measuring clients
  • Attention to detail
  • Good people skills and customer service orientation

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Certification from a vocational school or community college
  • 3+ years experience in alterations or custom tailoring
  • Experience working with high-end fabrics and materials
  • Proficiency in using computer-aided design (CAD) software

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