seamstress seamster
Design, arts and crafts

Career outlook for dressmaker

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would make unique clothes for customers that are made-to-measure to fit them perfectly.

You might specialise in a particular type of clothing like wedding dresses and bridalwear.

You could also make all sorts of other clothes for your customers including skirts, dresses, trousers and shirts.

You would:

  • Discuss the customer’s requirements
  • Show them fabric samples and pattern books
  • Give advice on which combination of fabrics and patterns may give the best results
  • Take the person’s measurements
  • Adapt an existing pattern, or producing a new pattern for the customer
  • Calculate the cost of the work, taking into account the fabric, trimmings and time needed
  • Use the pattern to cut out the fabric pieces
  • Loosely sew – tack – the fabric pieces together so the customer can try it on
  • See how the garments fits and make adjustments to create a perfect fit
  • Sew the pieces securely together to create the final garment
  • Finish it with beading and embroidery

You would sometimes make a sample or a 'toile’ out of cheaper fabric to check the design and fit before cutting an expensive fabric.

You would use a machine for most of the sewing, but finish detailed work, such as beading or embroidery, by hand.

You could also do alterations and repairs.

Working conditions


You would usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week, including Saturdays. As a self-employed dressmaker, you could choose your own hours, depending on the amount of work you have and the deadlines you need to meet.


You would normally be based in a workshop or work from home.


You may also spend some time visiting clients.

UK employment status





Self employed


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

  • Verbal communication
  • Creative
  • Designing
  • Observation
  • Empathising
  • Respecting
  • Attention to detail
  • Concentrating
  • Implementing ideas
  • Taking initiative

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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.


There is no fixed entry route into this job.To work as a dressmaker you would need experience and the ability to demonstrate to employers and clients that you have the skills they are looking for. Some dressmakers are self-taught. 

You can get into a Fashion Design & Manfucture, Production or Textiles National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF 2-6) with National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF Level 4/5).

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF Level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF Level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications. 

Useful subjects

  • Art and Design
  • English
  • Design and Manufacture

You will also need

  • Good eyesight
  • Normal colour vision for matching threads and fabrics

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that demonstrate understanding of the industry and pratical production skills such as a National Certificate in Fashion, Design and Manufacture (SCQF Level 6) or a relevant work-based qualifications such as Skills for Work Fashion and Textile (SVQ Level 2/3).