Tailors create custom-made suits, jackets and coats for men and women.
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What does a tailor do?

Tailors create bespoke items of clothing for men and women. They may make the whole garment, or work in a team where each member has a specialism. 

A tailor's work often focuses on making new items of clothing for clients. For a typical job, this would include:

  • taking measurements and agreeing a style and fabric
  • working out how much it will cost and how long it will take to make
  • creating a design, either by hand or using computer software
  • creating a new pattern or adapting an existing one
  • making a mock-up garment – a 'toile' – using cheaper fabrics
  • fitting the toile and making any alterations
  • cutting out fabric pieces
  • fitting the garment again and marking any final adjustments
  • stitching the garment together, often using hand stitching

Clients could also come to you for repairs and alterations to clothing bought elsewhere.


What do I need to do to become a tailor?

In this job you’ll need sewing and design skills. You’ll also need to be creative and know about different types of fabric.

To get into this job you could start without qualifications and learn whilst working with a master tailor. You may be able to arrange this yourself, or it could be part of an apprenticeship scheme. There are also college courses in fashion and textiles that would teach you some of the skills you’ll need.

If you need to develop sewing skills, you may find a short, introductory course at a local college of further education. Other suitable courses include:

  • Level 1 Award in Creative Techniques in Textiles – Sewing Machine Skills
  • Level 1 Award in Fashion – Sewing Machine Skills
  • Level 1 Certificate in Textiles
  • Level 1 Award/Certificate in Fashion and Textiles
  • Level 2 Award in Fashion – Pattern Cutting for Skirts and Trousers
  • Level 2 Certificate in Manufacturing Sewn Products.

Tailoring can also be part of a Fashion and Textiles Apprenticeship scheme.

You may also be able to get into the industry by attending an 18-week pre-apprenticeship course, which is part of the Bespoke Tailoring Apprenticeship Programme offered by Newham College, London. This is run in partnership with the Savile Row Bespoke Association (SRBA) supported by employers. SRBA also runs its own apprenticeship programme. Competition for these places is strong.


Related skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Creativity
  • Interpersonal skills
  • IT
  • Numeracy
  • Patience

Vocational route

  • Level 1 Award in Creative Techniques in Textiles – Sewing Machine Skills
  • Level 1 Award in Fashion – Sewing Machine Skills
  • Level 1 Certificate in Textiles
  • Level 1 Award/Certificate in Fashion and Textiles
  • Level 2 Award in Fashion – Pattern Cutting for Skirts and Trousers
  • Level 2 Certificate in Manufacturing Sewn Products

Where to find out more


Where could I be working?

You would be based in a sewing room, which may be attached to a shop or small factory. 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0


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