Clothing alteration hand

tailor dressmaker seamstress

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


Five year job forecast


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

What's it like?

You would adjust and repair people’s clothes so they fit well and they enjoy wearing them.

You might work in a shop that does all sort of clothing alterations, for a company which sells clothes or for a specialist shop such as a bridalwear shop or tailor.

You meet customers and speak to them about what changes they’d like to make to their garment. You’d explain the options based on your knowledge of textiles and fashion.

You would:

  • Fit the customer with the garment and decide where to make adjustments
  • Agree alterations and mark them out, using chalk or pins
  • Decide which kind of stitching would suit different types of fabric
  • Take up or let down hemlines
  • Adjust seams, darts or waistbands
  • Repair zips and other fastenings

You might stitch by hand or use an industrial-type sewing machine, such as an overlocker.

If you work as a dressmaker or tailor you would also estimate the cost of a repair and manage the accounts.

Working conditions


You would usually work between 35 and 40 hours a week, which may include evenings and weekends.


You would be based in a shop, workshop, or at a dry cleaners. If you are self employed, you may work from home. Most of your time will be spent sitting at a sewing machine.

UK employment status





Self employed


Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Time management
  • Attention to detail
  • Verbal communication
  • Observation
  • Creative

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


You do not need formal qualification to enter this career however some applicants undertake courses prior to applying to help develop their skills in this area.

To enter a National Certificate in Fashion Design and Manufacture (SCQF level 2-6) requires at least three National 4/5 qualifications. Courses may require a portfolio of your work. 

There may be a option for you to undertake a Modern Apprenticeship or apply direct and learn on the job

Useful subjects

  • Art and Design (required by some courses)
  • English (required by some courses)
  • Design and manufacture
  • Fashion & textile technologies
  • Maths
  • Business
  • Social studies

You will also need

Sewing experience (both machine and hand sewing) is useful, and necessary for some roles.

Helpful to have

You can also gain qualifications while in work such as the Scottish Vocational Qualification in Fashion & Heritage Textiles (SVQ level 2/3).