Dressmakers design and adjust clothing such as dresses, coats and suits according to customer measurements and specifications. During scheduled appointments, customers try on the clothing, and dressmakers make measurements for alterations. Their job involves cutting and sewing using needles and thread or sewing machines.

Dressmakers might specialise in a specific clothing such as wedding dresses, or they might work for a designer to create garments from designs.

Duties and responsibilities

    • Fit, study and measure garments on customers
    • Cut, stitch and sew fabrics
    • Use needles and thread and/or sewing machines
    • Engage in pattern-making
    • Mark or pin-fold alteration lines
    • Shorten or lengthen garment parts
    • Schedule appointments for customer fittings
    • Create and adjust garments according to fashion designer’s requirements
    • Attend fashion shows and visit other dress stores

Skills and knowledge

Attention to detail
Manual dexterity
Hand-eye coordination
Customer service

Working conditions




Full Time

Standard business hours

Dressmakers work indoors in design companies, dress shops, factories or in their own homes. Their job involves dealing with an array of customers who might have demanding needs. There are also strict deadlines for those who work with fashion designers.

Dressmakers use tools, such as needles and threads, and sewing machines to alter garments which might result in minor cuts and grazes. They are also exposed to noisy machinery and fabric dyes that irritate the eyes and skin. Some dressmakers suffer from eyestrain as they work on finer details which can take several hours.

Dressmakers sometimes travel to meet clients or attend fashion shows and visit shops.

Salary prospects





TOP 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Entry requirements


High school

On-the-job training



There are no formal entry requirements to become a dressmaker, although many individuals obtain a bachelor’s degree in fashion design. An ambitious dressmaker generally needs to have a high school diploma and the ability to demonstrate great sewing skills and thorough knowledge in dress design and construction.

There is also the option to take sewing and design classes in vocational and technical schools, which will be seen as an advantage by hiring managers. Previous experience in dress shops assisting in dressmaking is also beneficial for acquiring the role of dressmaker.

Job outlook

The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.


The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


Career advancement

Dressmakers that work in shops can progress to work in more prestigious stores with higher pay, or they can even get hired by an established fashion designer.

With enough experience and qualifications, there is also the opportunity to open your own business or embark on a successful career in fashion design and merchandising.