What does a tailor do?
Tailors produce made-to-measure (bespoke) items of clothing – mainly suits, jackets and coats – for men and women. They may make up the whole garment, or work in a team with each member having their own specialism. Some tailors also carry out repairs and alterations.
Tailors first discuss requirements with the client, often using magazines, brochures, pattern books and fabric samples as sources of ideas. They will advise the client which options may produce the best results.
Once the style and fabric have been decided, the tailor will work out the cost of the work, based on the fabric and trimmings needed and the amount of time the work is likely to take.
An existing pattern may be used, or the tailor may produce a pattern, sometimes on computer. They will then cut out the pieces and tack them together for initial fitting. The garment will then be sewn, either by hand or machine. Several fittings may be required to ensure a perfect fit.
Finally the garment is pressed with a heavy iron to give it its finished shape.
What's the working environment like for tailors?
Tailors may work around 37 to 40 hours a week, often including Saturdays. Overtime may be necessary to meet deadlines. Self-employment is common, in which case tailors will set their own hours. Some evening and weekend work may be required to meet customers and carry out fittings.
Tailors may work in sewing rooms, which may be attached to shops or small factories, or from home if self-employed.
What does it take to become a tailor?
To be a tailor you should have:
excellent sewing skills
an interest in textiles, fashion, design and trends
creativity and the ability to visualise designs
the ability to put clients at ease and to deal with them tactfully
accuracy and attention to detail
the ability to maintain concentration, sometimes for long periods
a smart appearance.
Tailor career opportunities
Most opportunities are likely to be in small and medium-sized companies in the major cities throughout the UK. These range from small tailoring and alteration shops to larger clothing manufacturers.
In larger companies, it may be possible for tailors to gain promotion to senior tailor and supervisory roles. A common career move for tailors is to set up their own business.
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