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How to Become a Tailor

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Tailors fix flaws in clothing, from linings or pockets that detach to garments that don't properly fit customers. The job requires a mastery of sewing techniques, basic math skills and an understanding of the way various fabrics and materials work. Tailors are often perfectionists because they must establish a steady customer base to be successful. It takes reliability, efficiency and precision.

Learn the Trade

Tailoring isn't a field you can enter on a whim. Tailors know which tools will solve problems with certain materials rather than creating larger ones. They must be masters with sewing gauges, seam rippers and dressmaking shears. Start by practicing on anything you can get your hands on, such as your own old or over-sized clothes. Recruit family members or friends who wear different sizes to be your models while you gain experience fitting materials to various body types.

Get More Training

Before applying for jobs, get a handle on industry specifics like customer service, design and sewing or altering by length and width. There are many potential routes to becoming a tailor, including interning with a professional in the industry or attending a fashion design or sewing school. For example, A Fashionable Stitch in Utah offers classes on tailoring specifics like finishing seams, cutting cloth, hemming and pressing. While you learn the ins and outs, also work on your steadiness and coordination.

Try Different Roles

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers mostly worked in department and clothing stores, and laundry and drycleaning services industries in 2013. Tailors may perform different tasks, depending on the industry or employer. In some shops, tailors aren't the ones who do fittings for customers, for example. Other jobs require them to do it all, including fitting suits or clothing, selling products and altering or creating garments. Apply for different positions to gain experience in all departments and become more versatile.

Stay on Top

ONet OnLine reports that 49 percent of tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers were self-employed in 2012, and that opportunities are expected to decline through 2022. These cuts put extra pressure on experienced tailors to maintain the quality of their work as well as their abilities. They may attend special classes or practice on their own to learn advanced skills, such as working with belts and zippers or adding pockets, ribbons and other decorations to clothing.


Based in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, Megan Torrance left her position as the general manager for five Subway restaurants to focus on her passion for writing. Torrance specializes in creating content for career-oriented, motivated individuals and small business owners. Her work has been published on such sites as Chron, GlobalPost and eHow.

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