A seamstress is a woman who earns a living or works by sewing. A male seamstress is called a seamster. The basic skill a seamstress needs to know is how to sew. He or she need not have other skills to make clothes from scratch or to fit sewn clothes on a real body. A seamstress is not synonymous to a dressmaker.
To become a professional seamstress, a person needs to have mastered special skills, and she should have an acquired knowledge of how to mend clothes and make clothing. In her line of work, she will have to sew hems, do alterations, mend zippers and buttons, and fix tears. She can be a machine factory operator who just sews seams, or a seamstress who works in a tailor shop and accepts job-by-job work. She can also work in a business related to clothing, like in dry cleaning shops or businesses that offer sewing services. This occupation is also popular among mothers or fathers who need a means to make money without leaving their home.
A seamstress who makes her living by sewing is considered a female tailor. Seamstress apprentices usually work with a more experienced seamstress for many years before she is accepted as a professional seamstress in a shop or can work independently. Usually, a seamstress starts out as an apprentice as part of a team, then slowly works her way towards becoming a professional seamstress.
As an apprenticeship, she studies how to mend, embroider, create new sewing patterns, and work on various fabrics, repair garments and other useful skills. She studies how to know the difference between underlining, lining, and interlining; learns more about cutting patterns and pieces; creates well hidden solid seams; learns how to prevent wrinkling; studies how to extend garment wear; determines the types of fabrics, when to use them, how to work with fabrics like flannel or wool; and how to work with delicate cashmere or silk.
The more skillful a seamstress is, the higher are the rates for her services. Previously, only rich families could afford to get the services of a seamstress. When required, a seamstress together with her team of apprentices can be hired to create special garments designed for specific occasions. For seamstresses who have developed new techniques in sewing, they can contribute to creating new fashions.
Today, some people still hire the services of independent seamstresses to create custom made garments for special occasions, or to mend garments. Fashion design houses use teams of seamstresses to create their collections. Professional seamstresses are able to make use of fabrics efficiently and can create patterns that can be replicated.
To become a high-end seamstress, she should have above average skills in math and textile science. For some fashion design companies, they require a degree in textile design, arts, or fashion. High-end seamstress can charge higher rates for more difficult job orders.
A seamstress or seamster, can work for herself or himself, for a business, per project, full time or on a part time basis. Since everyone uses clothing, qualified people will always be needed to repair, make alterations or mend clothes. To earn better a seamstress or seamster can use her or his sewing skills to specialize in jobs like wedding gown design, dressmaking, shoemaking or shoe repair, or even sail making. You can also choose to specialize in just alterations, mending or repair of clothing.