What's the Difference Between a Seamstress and a Tailor?
Seamstresses and tailors both work in the textile industry, sewing, mending and altering clothes and garments made of various fabrics. There is a slight difference between the two, but both occupations will often have the same duties and responsibilities. Keep reading to learn more. Schools offering Fashion Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Definition of Seamstress and Tailor
There is a very fine line between what a seamstress and what a tailor does. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups both job titles together under textiles and apparel occupations (www.bls.gov). A seamstress is generally going to be a person who sews for a living; this will be clothes, fabrics and apparel.
A tailor works at altering clothing and apparel to fit a client/customer. They can make clothes as well and might have to hem and mend. Usually, a tailor will work more with suits and coats and even fancy dresses like ball gowns.
As a seamstress or tailor, you can work for local dry cleaners, laundry mats and alteration places. You could also work at your own establishment or even out of your home. The BLS notes you can also work for department stores that have an alterations department.
Job Duties and Skills
Because the BLS doesn't offer a large amount of information regarding what job duties are expected and what skills are necessary to work as a seamstress or tailor, February 2012 job postings from Monster.com shed a bit more light on these professions. National department stores, for example, consider a tailor a retail fitter.
Customer service is a key factor when working in this type of environment, because customers will come in to spend money on garments and clothes and might need to have something altered, pressed or sewed. You would be responsible for marking the fabric that needs to be altered or sewed, use equipment such as sewing machines and irons, work at a fast pace and know the difference between fabrics.
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the BLS, positions in these fields may decline by 15% between 2008 and 2018. This decline can be attributed to things being made overseas and shipped to the U.S., as well as a decline in having such work done by hand.
While there is a high turnover rate in these occupations, tailors and seamstresses might find employment working for themselves or in larger department stores where customers rely on in-person interaction to help tend to their garment needs. According to a May 2010 report, the BLS indicated that the mean annual wage for seamstresses and tailors was $28,360.
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