How To Be A Men’s Tailor – Jobs And Business Opportunity

Published Categorized as Sewing Business

Do A Lot Of Men Become Tailors?

Ever since I was a child, I remember visiting tailoring shops that mostly comprised of male tailors. Of course, this might have a lot to do with the fact that men usually cater to male clients and vice versa. However, I feel that, like many other fields, this line of work is also skewed somewhat towards the male gender.

The reason for my thinking is mostly my own observation. The custom tailors that my women friends use, mostly go to men tailors. I have a couple of friends who run designing studios. They make clothes for women. Guess what? Same thing. Mostly male tailors working there as well.

It makes sense that there will be men tailors for men clients but they are mostly there for women as well. Where I live, several small in house sewing and tailoring units exist, a lot of them functioning from home. These are mostly run by women and employ mostly women. But the larger and more professional shops seem to be men dominated.

Like I said before maybe this has a more business aspect to it than anything else. You will find male tailors for both men and women, whereas only male ones for the men. For some reason, women find it easier to be comfortable working with men tailors, whereas the reverse is not true for men and female tailors.

Specialty Options For Men Tailors

Retailers of men’s formal and business wear generally don’t have an in-house tailor, and typically alteration work is subcontracted to outside tailors.

This fact creates a more than ample opportunity for individuals with sewing experience to capitalize by starting a tailoring service that operates right from a home based location.

Mens tailor

The fastest way to establish the service is to offer men’s wear retailers your services on a subcontract basis, and you can arrange a certain time of the day to pick up garments to be altered and return the garments the following day.

But if you do not want to do that, you can very well start the business on your own and use simple and effective advertising techniques to get the word around for your business. Believe us when we tell you that men enjoy and require custom sewing jobs for their clothes. People prefer to have expensive formal wear repaired and altered rather than have to spend money for buying something new.

Men also like to repair and alter as an alternative to having to go shopping and looking for the right garment again.

Additionally, to generate more revenue for the business, consider purchasing tuxedos that can be rented to clients via the men’s wear stores that currently don’t provide their customers this service.

As always, people are ready to pay good money to get their expensive clothing back in shape. The potential income range is $25 to $35 per hour, at the time of writing this.

What does a tailor do?

Seamstress/Seamster versus A Tailor

The distinction between the two can be tricky and open to several interpretations. Here is how I have segregated the two ideas of who can be described as a tailor and who is a seamstress. The first distinction is that the term tailor is mostly used for men. The reason is that the term tailor came about initially for someone who tailored and fitted men’s formal clothing specially suits. Today the term is ambiguous and can be used both for both men and women.

Difference in function

This is where the little bit of vagueness comes in. What is a tailor supposed to do that is different from a seamstress? (Or a seamster, which is the male version of a seamstress). Well nothing really. Like I said the term is mostly about gender usage.

Both a tailor and a seamstress can make clothes from the scratch. The difference lies in the fact that a seamstress works with seams and fabric and hence can make all kinds of crafts like cushions covers et cetera. A tailor however only works with garments and clothes.

Both the seamstress/seamster and a tailor can know how to do bespoke fittings, but that is not necessary. The tailor, however, is supposed to be more adept at taking measurements and cutting out patterns. This is just how they are meant to be trained. They might be self-employed or work for department stores, bridal shops or other specialty stores. Standing and bending for long periods of time might be required.

Another old and classic term is dressmaker. Some fashion designers and renowned fashion houses insist on being known as dressmakers. The term dressmaker implies that the person is capable of making custom bespoke dress from the scratch and very likely to design an original garment as well.

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

  • taking measurements
  • working out the cost and duration for making the garment
  • 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
  • fitting the garment again and marking any final adjustments
  • stitching the garment together, often using hand stitching
  • Making repairs and alterations to clothing bought elsewhere.

What do I need to do to become a tailor?

How To Become A Men’s Tailor

There are no strict guidelines as to how to become a tailor. At the end of the day you need to know how to do your job. Employment opportunities for a tailor ranges from working for fashion houses to being self employed.

When starting out with a tailoring career and when seeking employment it helps to show credentials and qualifications to begin with. Certain local colleges and institutes might offer training programmes which are also good place to start if you want to learn the necessary skills to be a tailor.

Of community colleges offer courses in garment design of which tailoring is also a part. Premier institutes with accredited designing courses almost always have course modules that teach each pattern cutting and tailoring garments as well. 

Apprenticeship is a good way to learn tailoring skills but a little tricky to come by. It helps if you know somebody who runs a sew-shop and can take you in as a trainee. The route you take to learn tailoring depends on your ultimate and immediate ambitions.

If you take a premier course from an accredited designing school you can look forward to applying to major designing houses and studios. Otherwise you have to see if there is a strong presence of job availability for tailors locally or there is a business potential to open your own sewing shop, tailoring unit or studio.

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.

Recommended Courses For A Tailor

These are some courses that can be undertaken to gain skills and employment as a tailor. The names and description of the course might be different where you are.

  • Creative Techniques in Textiles – Sewing Machine Skills
  • Fashion – Sewing Machine Skills
  • Certificate in Textiles
  • Certificate in Fashion and Textiles
  • Pattern Cutting for Skirts and Trousers
  • Manufacturing Sewn Products.
  • Tailoring can also be part of a Fashion and Textiles Apprenticeship scheme.

If you are in London and want to get into tailoring, you can get into the field  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.

At the end of this post we have published some well known and accredited learning recourses for sewing. Read on. 

Steps To Learning Tailoring And Gaining Employment?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2018, tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers made a median hourly wage of $14.90 and a median yearly wage of $31,000. However, this can vary a lot.

It all depends on where you work and what kind of work you do. If you work for a design house or a designer studio, you will earn more than that. As you experiment in the field grows, so will your income. 

Tailors can progress to become patter makers, dress makers etc. all of whom demand high wages for their expertise. Speaking of expertise, if a tailor develops an expertise for himself such as sewing bespoke men’s wear or women’s dresses, they can get very highly paid. Growing and progressing in such a manner with. 

#1: Take Intro Sewing Courses

I suppose learning the trade is always the first step no matter what you set out to do. Therefore some classes and training is called for to get one started on their tailoring career.

If you start with beginners and introductory sewing courses you will learn about fabric choice, pattern selection and how to use a variety of basic sewing tools. Junior colleges and community learning programs usually offer sewing courses for beginners, as well as courses for intermediate and advanced learning.

Several colleges offer certificate programs related to tailoring and sewing. Some programs are designed for basic alterations, but other programs are intended for those who want to specialize in areas like tailoring men’s apparel.

Coursework in these programs cover apparel alterations, traditional tailoring, contemporary tailoring, sewing tools and fashion entrepreneurship.

More about WHERE you can take these sewing lessons at the bottom of the post. 

#2: Training With Tailoring Tools

A good tailor is not just technically sound but also has a good understanding of design, fabric and the human body form. So being skilful with tailoring tools is important along with good perception skills. That is what sets a good tailor apart and enables him/her to make garments as intended. 

There are several tools that a tailor can work with. Some work with more to deliver better precision whereas others do not.

For example, tailors use a regular measuring tape for body measurements, but often use short rulers to mark buttonhole spacing and clothing hem-lengths on fabric. Special rulers, such as a French curve, help tailors make alteration adjustments on angled seam lines.

Other essential tools include sewing machines, sergers, cutting tools and other sewing notions. Sewing machines allow tailors to quickly sew pieces of fabric together, whereas sergers bind fabric edges to prevent the fabric seam from fraying.

Cutting tools, such as scissors and trimming shears, are used to cut fabric, trim loose threads and to make special alteration cuts. Sewing accessories include hand-sewing needles, thimbles, thread, safety pins, straight pins and almost any other small, non-mechanical sewing tool.

# 3: Apprenticeship With Professionals

Training, doing an apprenticeship or working with established craftsman is an important step in one’s effort to make inroads in the profession of any chosen art form. Tailoring is no different.

There are several reasons for this. First of all, hands on learning teaches you a lot, specially about working in real conditions. Then, it doesn’t just teach you technical skills but also other nuances like how to deal with clients and business management.

This knowledge is invaluable if you ever intend to start your own sewing and tailoring business. Most tailors either join garment/designing houses, manufacturing units or start a business of their own.

The third reason why I think apprenticeship is important is because it gets you an entry in your chosen industry. It’s a stepping stone that gives you the necessary credentials and contacts to further your career.

If you haven’t learnt this already, you will soon enough, that there is a lot of value in networking and coming in contact with the right people, which will make progressing easier and smoother.

So it is highly recommended that entry-level tailors should work with professionals before attempting to start their own tailoring business.  Experienced tailors can provide real-world training that many college programs can’t replicate.

Additionally, working with established tailoring companies allows entry-level tailors to learn about industry-specific business operations like managing clothing orders or methods of design by working with fashion designers.

In order to find employment, it is essential that an aspiring tailor have a portfolio showcasing his or her work. Working and training with professionals or tailoring companies will allow you to do just that.

This is also where the quality of your apprenticeship matters. If you work in a place that sees a lot of business with a diverse range of jobs,  you will grow in your experience and knowledge manifold and so will the portfolio of your work. 

#4: Making A Career Plan

After receiving initial training and gaining a few years of experience, tailors often have to choose a business strategy of either working with an established tailoring company or starting a tailoring business. Those who work with established companies tend to focus more on customer care, designing outfits and making alterations.

Tailors who start up their own businesses perform all the duties of a regular tailor but they also run their businesses, which includes creating marketing campaigns, finding new clients, hiring additional workers and dealing with finances. 

It helps if you plan things out a bit. It will make you aware of your options. For example, know from before where all can you apply for tailoring work once you finish with your training.

Have a list of related businesses including fashion and garment houses that you can apply to. In fact if you have specific ambitions to work in a particular place or industry such as high-fashion, you can shape and tailor your training accordingly. This will give you the right credentials for the right job.

If you intend to be independent and open up your own tailoring shop it’s good to have an idea of where and how you would like to do that. Also have a clear idea about the kind of business you would like to have. Sorting out all these things as best as you can and will just clear things up in your head so that you can focus on the important things along every step of the way.

It’s also needed to put all this together in a plan form because just thinking about it doesn’t work. Writing things down is effective which is why to do lists work so well for most people.

Different Kinds Of Sewing Courses

If you want to learn about sewing and tailoring and then you need to look at institutions and schools that offer certificate programmes. Undergraduate programs are mostly design and industry oriented, where sewing and construction is only a part of the curriculum. Of course, undergraduate programs are longer, and call for different ambitions altogether.

These undergraduate courses include fashion design, merchandising, textile design et cetera. The undergraduate courses are taken by someone with ambitions of becoming a designer or seeking high-profile jobs in the garment and textile industry.

Several community colleges will offer sewing classes and some specialised academies such as the American Bespoke Tailoring Academy offer specialisation in tailoring. London College of Arts offers various sewing and pattern making as a part of their short term courses.

Basic sewing courses.

These kind of sewing courses are most common in high schools and community colleges. The provide basic working hands on knowledge of stitches and seems and putting together basic shapes. They are a good place to start if you just want some familiarity with the work and want to decide if you want to get serious about it.

Craft and domestic sewing

These kind of sewing training programmes teach you to work with seams and fabrics mostly enabling you to make home decor as well as common crafts. You will be working with mostly straight stitching and serving, learning about different kinds of stitches, how to use common controls on a sewing machine and also how to hand stitch.

Garments and tailoring course.

This kind of a sewing course will have you learning how to stitch garments. You will learn what is needed to take measurements of the human body and tools you will need to make the necessary sowing patterns from these measurements. These tools include

The basic tailoring course will teach you basic construction of the garments like a shirt, trousers, top and a skirt. It will leave you to advance your learning through advanced courses or experience.

Bespoke tailoring classes and lessons

This is a specialised sewing class and gets you into the advanced techniques of making bespoke clothing. Bespoke tailoring is different from custom sewing clothes. Bespoke tailoring involves taking many more measurements and taking into consideration the different body shape for each individual.

For example, each human body can have subtle differences such as one shoulder might be higher than the other. All these things are considered while making a bespoke piece of clothing..

Specialised sewing training (fashion accessories, shoes, bags, leather crafts)

Things get more interesting here. You will learn to make fashion accessories in this kind of a specialised sewing course. Yes, bags and belts can also be a part of the craft sewing course but not to an advanced level.

Here you will learn not only to work with clothes but leather fabric as well. You will learn advanced construction techniques that enable you to make more complex fashion accessories. Stitching with leather takes you in another league and niche completely.

Shoe making is an art on its own and will have an entire course dedicated to it. We have recently written a post on custom shoe making business. Read it for more information on the subject.

These are some of the different kinds of sewing courses that you will find. I hope that a brief description helps you decide which one you want to undertake.

Institutes, Colleges and Sewing Schools For Learning Tailoring

Sewing classes are typically offered at fashion schools and colleges that have fashion design programs, and they may culminate in a diploma, certificate or degree. Choosing a course that is part of a fashion design college program can be helpful in gaining formal education and increase job opportunities.

If you want to strictly learn sewing only then you have to look for classes that offer a certificate program. Long term undergraduate courses are for someone who has ambitions of being a designer, joining the corporate garment/textile industry etc.

However, several schools and colleges offer such courses and training to learn sewing as standalone. An interesting venue open to interested students here are private sewing schools that are a part of a larger sewing business or a design house. These places can provide early inroads into the work for interested students. 

Here are a few links and resources for sewing schools. 

Durham College (Sewing Certificate Program)

Program Description – This certificate is designed to prepare you to work in various aspects of the sewing industry. It may lead to self-employment as a tailor, or finding employment in retail fabric and clothing stores and entry level pattern and or sample makers in the industrial sector.

Dallas College (Sewing Program) 

Learn the basics of sewing with our continuing education program.

The London College Of Fashion

The London College Of Fashion offer some excellent choices in Undergraduate as well as short term courses for sewing and pattern making/cutting. They have a full undergraduate BA (Hons) course in Bespoke Tailoring. How about that… These are their short term courses and undergraduate ones.

FIT (Fashion Institute Of Technology), State University of New York

offers a certificate program in Ladies Tailoring techniques. Here is the link. This course requires existing knowledge of sewing and pattern making. 

American Bespoke Tailoring Academy (ABTA) 

Here we have a specialised institute running both in-house and online programs teaching be-spoke tailoring. Located in Dallas, TX it claims to have the only dedicated program teaching traditional methods of soft-structured tailoring.

Here we have a nicely composed post that lists out major sewing learning schools, colleges, institutes and courses across the USA as well as UK, rest of Europe and even schools of repute in Asia.

Academy Of Art University

Plenty of fashion related courses on offer from fashion journalism to costume design. 

An online course called the Parsons (The New School) is a fully online module that seeks to enhance your knowledge and skills in key areas of the field of fashion, such as Visual style, Portfolio design, Fashion production and Marketing & PR. It is also a blend of learning with an amalgamation with the identity and business knowledge of Teen Vogue publication. 

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