What is a Dressmaker? Roles and Description

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Learn all about what is a dressmaker. Dressmaking has a long and honorable history that dates back to the time when sewing needles were invented. Once needles were available, fabrics could be put together to make clothes. Dressmakers do not just make dresses but rather they create all kinds of clothing. When textiles and silks from China came over the Silk Route to Europe they added tremendous value to the materials that were currently available. These rich and beautiful fabrics started a whole new industry of making fine dresses for ladies. The Industrial Revolution mechanized the making of dresses, but patterns and design were always at the heart of any garment. The dressmaker put together the pattern pieces to complete the garment.

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What is a Dressmaker?Dressmaker vs TailorDressmaker SkillsThe Home DressmakerOther Roles of a DressmakerWhat is a Dressmaker – In Conclusion

What is a Dressmaker?

Dressmakers do not only make dresses. They make clothes especially for women wanting a particular fashionable appearance and style. A dressmaker, sometimes known as a modiste or fabrician can make dresses, skirts, blouses, and even evening gowns.

Dressmaker vs Tailor

A dressmaker is not exactly the same as a tailor. Although they are both in the clothing industry, a tailor works with suits and fitted clothing. Both a tailor and a dressmaker may both do alterations. 

Dressmakers are creative in their use of fabrics trims and accessories and may be asked to copy designs made famous by other fashionable couturiers. A dressmaker uses their craft to help women to find a design that complements their figure. The designs a dressmaker creates are made particularly for individual tastes. Having your own dressmaker ensures you have someone who can make personalized fashionable clothing just for you. Dressmakers specialize in making clothing for their clients and are generally more in demand than a tailor or a seamstress. 

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Dressmaker Skills

Dressmakers will need to have the following skills along with a background in fashion and/or tailoring.

Creating and modifying patterns.Ability to sew by hand and by machine.Knowledge of garment and fashion design.Experience with using all sorts of fabrics and trims.Ability to tell the kind of style and fabric to suit a woman’s body type.Know how to use different sewing tools and create custom made garments for individual clients.Set up their own business running their accounting and marketing if they choose to work for themselves.

The Home Dressmaker

Dressmaking has become a popular way of making an income from home. It does require skills and an interest in sewing. Patience, dexterity, and being prepared to spend time sewing for individual clients are necessary skills. 

Tools Required:

The home dressmaker will need their own equipment including:

CUTTING TOOLS – A sturdy cutting board, quality scissors, and rotary cutters. MARKING TOOLS – Tailors chalk, removable fabric pens, tracing wheels.MACHINES – A reliable sewing machine brand. A serger is a good investment for a dressmaker. Read sewing machine vs serger vs coverstitch to get a good overview of which machines are best for you. DRESSMAKERS DUMMY – A dressmaker needs a mannequin to be able to fit the dress or garment accurately for the client. The best mannequins to purchase are able to change its size to create the client’s body shape exactly for accurate fittings.


A background course in dressmaking would ensure the dressmaker had the skills required to run their own business from home with the technical experience. As well, professional dressmakers would need to update their sewing skills and be sure they keep up with technology.

One of the most important techniques a dressmaker should have is the ability to mark garments accurately. Paying attention to marking and pattern cutting will result in a good cut and fit of the garment. Another valuable skill is a sound knowledge of fabrics and how they are suited to different styles and designs. Stretch fabrics are often more difficult to sew with due to their stretch factor. Silks and satins are difficult to sew due to the slippery quality of the fabric, while velvet and other similar fabrics have a nap to take into account. 

Here are some useful articles to help you increase and build your skills as a dressmaker.

Using bias tapeCuttingDarts and PleatsGathering

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Other Roles of a Dressmaker

There are other roles a dressmaker can play in the dressmaking industry. They may be skilled in updating vintage clothing and restoring historical costumes and designs. Dressmakers may take couture designs and make them for their clients who wish to have a copy of a famous dress or design. Wedding dresses often fall into this category of dressmaking and wedding dress designs of royalty are watched with particular interest.

Famous couture and fashion houses will have their signature designs and their dressmakers will have to be very competent to complete a dress ready for the world-famous catwalks and fashion shows. It is the dressmaker who is behind the scenes creating and fitting each garment before the show. Modern dressmaking careers can be taken up by men and women. A dressmaker will often undergo an apprenticeship before starting out on a career. The best way to learn the skills of a practical career, like dressmaking, is through the tutorship of someone with experience and knowledge of the craft.

What is a Dressmaker – In Conclusion

Coco Chanel must be one of the world’s most renowned names associated with fashion and dressmaking. A true dressmaker will always keep up with trends, but at the same time recognize the basic elements that make up a stunning piece of clothing. Chanel said: “Fashion fades. Only style remains the same.” This quote resonates well with the dressmaker who is in tune with creating a real fashion piece following in the steps of the best dressmakers.

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