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There has not always been shopping malls. Purchasing mass-made, generic clothing has only become commonplace in the past hundred years or so. Before that, most people went to tailors when they needed new clothing.

Today, both men and women use the services tailors provide. Some tailors work as shop or alteration tailors. These tailors make modifications to ready-to-wear clothing - they hem pants and take in waist bands, and are employed by retail outlets and tailor shops. They may also work for major clothing manufacturers, assembling pieces and putting final touches to clothes. Some work as custom tailors. These skilled artisans make jackets, shirts, dresses, coats, suits, skirts, and pants for clients looking for a unique look and clients with special clothing needs. They measure the client, and consult with them about the desired fit and fabric to be used.

Some tailors work as designers, inventing patterns as they go along, while others stick to established sewing guidelines and current fashions. They may recreate another garment that the client brings in - perhaps a favorite pair of pants they've outgrown, or a jacket with a permanent ink stain they'd like recreated - in a stain resistant fabric this time!

Tailors often work by hand, or with single-needle sewing machines and hand irons. They are skilled, with excellent eyes and hand/eye coordination. They know a lot about textiles, and which fabric will work for each pattern. They also know which styles look best for which people, and which patterns are more easily alterable.

Tailors are a dying breed. Not many people sew nowadays, and the tiny stitches and the sharp, clean hemlines of hand-made clothing are often only found in the racks of second-hand stores. Still, someone will always be out there, making personal, stylish, and well-fitting clothes for a few lucky people who remember to use a tailor when they're looking for a new garment.
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
In order to work as a tailor, one must have good eyesight, manual dexterity and enjoy working with their hands. They should sincerely enjoy sewing, have an interest in creating something from nothing. They should be creative, interested in fashion, have excellent communication skills, and be polite, tactful, honest, and good communicators.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Meet with client and discuss desired garment, look, and style
  • Recommend appropriate types of fabric
  • Measure customers
  • Create patterns from unique designs or alter existing patterns to achieve appropriate look
  • Create clothing by hand and with simple machines
  • Ask customers to try garments on and make any alterations
  • May handle any administrative duties
  • The typical day for a tailor mostly involves working with clients, measuring, sewing, picking stitches, and re-sewing sections that don't fit as well. Tailors who are self-employed will spend some of each day advertising, as well as looking after the business side of things. Tailors may travel around the community if they work for themselves or a tailoring agency to do fittings with the clients.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Tailors work in factories making garments for mass sale, in custom order shops for unique clients, and in dry-cleaning or clothing repair shops. They work for theater and opera companies. They also work on staff with retail stores, looking after alteration requests. They area also often self-employed, working out of their homes or a small office.
  • Their place of work and their schedules depend on where they are employed. Those with factories or clothing stores may work regular hours with weekends and evenings free, but those who work on their own or with theater companies may have to work longer hours in the event of a rush or large order.
  • They may work alone, or alongside other tailors and dressmakers. Again, it depends on their place of work.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Experienced tailors may progress to owning their own dressmaking and tailoring shop. Some may even become clothing designers, fashion consultants, or work in textile art, fabric printing, or open a shop to sell fabric and sewing notions. They can also work for museums or historical societies, creating costumes for the staff or working with displays.

  Educational Paths  
Tailors are generally avid recreational sewers, who take their high school home economics training to a new level. Some design or tailoring courses cover things like advanced sewing, pattern making and altering, fit, textiles, and design, however, tailoring is perhaps best learned on the job.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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