Becoming a seamstress may feel like a daydream, and it can feel like an extremely intimidating goal when you try to build steps to get there. Not only do you need to have the skillsets required and a way to showcase those skills, which can be tough to navigate, but once have those things, it’s also confusing to understand how to find work to continue progressing your career and expertise. This guide is here to help you navigate all of that. If you are dedicated to your goal of becoming a seamstress but need help learning how to get there, you are in the right place.
Gaining The Right Skills
Gaining the appropriate skills to become a seamstress looks a bit different for everyone, which is nice because there are options, but the options can make the process feel even more confusing. The best place to start is to reflect on yourself and the skills you currently do or do not have. If you grew up sewing with a family member, your level of experience is much different than someone who has never used a sewing machine before. To ensure you are being productive with your time, you need to take an accurate inventory of your skillsets to identify the areas you still need to develop. Below are the skills a job-ready seamstress has in their tool belt:
- Sewing experience
- Tailoring and alterations confidence
- Production familiarity and comfort
- Ability to hand-stitch
- Proficiency with crewelwork
- Experience with crocheting
- Appreciation for colors and design that align with current styles
- Strong attention to details
- Mindful customer-service skills
- Exceptional time management skills
Once you have identified where your skills have room to grow, you can find the right resources for you. If you are lacking almost all of the required skills listed above, it may be a good opportunity for you to participate in a seamstress program that teaches you a foundation and builds from there.
There are endless program options available, so you are bound to find a program that works with your schedule and budget. It is not a requirement that you have a college degree related to fashion, so don’t put undue pressure on yourself that you need a 4-year degree to become the best seamstress you can be. You can certainly do that if you would like the full “college experience” before stepping into your career, but a career as a seamstress requires nothing more than experience (and networking).
There are specialized programs available to you, aimed at developing your seamstress skills, without requiring prerequisites that don’t align with your career goals (like the English 101 or Biology courses a college or university may require you to take). There truly are options available to develop your seamstress skillset, starting at any experience level, with the opportunity for you to choose a program or education that best suits you, your needs, and your budget.
Just like any industry, there is a hierarchy within the world of fashion, and it is an expectation of any seamstress to navigate the ranks as they gain experience. This is, perhaps, the most difficult aspect of reaching your seamstress goals as it takes time, intention, and a lot of your energy. A massive benefit of participating in a seamstress program, like the ones mentioned previously, is they also help you start to network yourself.
These programs have built connections with a strong bench of boutiques and employers that they can help you begin building a relationship with. Take advantage of that resource! One of the toughest hurdles for you to overcome will be instilling trust in employers that you have the right skills, so having support from someone these employers already trust is key to your success. Once a relationship has been established, regardless of your level of sewing experience, it is time to set your ego aside.
Remember: it is expected that you navigate the ranks of the seamstress world just as others before you did. Doing so, particularly if you are entering the industry with experience, requires professional patience and going above and beyond to build your reputation. Your skills do not matter unless you can effectively demonstrate them, so that is what your early career as a seamstress is all about – showing off your exceptional abilities. To set your expectations, below is the hierarchy you need to navigate if you have a goal of becoming a seamstress:
- First Hands
- Firsthand Highly Qualified (FHHQ)
- Second Seamstress
- Premier or Head Seamstress
You will find this hierarchy within any boutique or designer’s production, and every role in the process is integral in creating the beautiful garments that likely inspired you to join this industry,to begin with. Though the hierarchy is a requirement for you to navigate, there is no particular tenure expectation within each step in the ranks.
Going back to the idea that proving your skillset is what matters most, if you can prove your skills quickly within each role and you maintain your network (beyond the boutique you may be currently working at), you can progress relatively quickly! You are stepping into a merit-based world, which should be motivating as you really do have more control over your career, so long as you are willing to put forth the effort required.
Your dream of becoming a seamstress can be a reality you create for yourself. With realistic self-reflection, skill development, networking, professional patience, and dedication, you will be able to set yourself apart from the less passionate and stand out in the industry. As we learned, this is a merit-based world, so the faster you can highlight your skills, the faster you can reach your goals.
Not everyone makes it to the top of the hierarchy, but those that do, enter this world with the right mindset and intentions, and they keep themselves dedicated to the process. If you follow this guide and your passions, and put in the required work and energy, you can make your dreams come true.