Clothing Alteration Careers

How to become seamstress

What does a seamstress do?

Seamstresses make alterations to and carry out sewing repairs on garments for customers. This may involve a fitting with the customer to decide where adjustments need to be made. Typical jobs include sewing, lengthening or shortening hemlines, adjusting seams, altering darts and repairing zips or tears.

Having agreed with the customer which changes are to be made, the alteration hand marks these out on the garment, either by pinning or tacking, or by using chalk marks before making the adjustments.

Depending on the type of alteration, they may have to unpick the stitches in the garment before sewing the pieces together again in a slightly different position. They have to decide what kind of stitching will suit different types of fabric and may stitch by hand and/or use an industrial-type sewing machine, such as an overlocker.

Seamstresses may specialise in women's or men's clothing or both. 


What's the working environment like for a seamstress?

They usually work around 35 to 40 hours a week, which may include Saturdays. Part-time work and overtime may be available.

They usually work in a shop or workshop, dry cleaners or sometimes from home. Most of the time they work sitting down at a machine.


What does it take to become a seamstress?

To work in clothing alteration you should:

  • have an interest in textiles, colour, fashion, design and trends

  • have excellent practical skills for using tools like scissors, needles and sewing machines

  • have an appreciation for detail

  • be able to deal tactfully with customers

  • be able to take accurate measurements and make calculations

  • have the ability to work quickly

  • have good eyesight, and normal colour vision for matching threads to fabrics

  • be able to work on your own initiative.


Career opportunities

Seamstresses work in clothing retailers, as well as dry cleaners and industrial laundries. There are also shops which specialise in fast alteration and repair services.

Promotion prospects are limited, but in larger companies there may be supervisory roles available. Self-employment is also an option.


Further information

If you would like to know anything about clothing alteration that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Richmond House
Lawnswood Business Park
Redvers Close
LS16 6RD

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