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To become a seamstress, you need to have the ability to sew and an understanding of tailoring and the way clothes fit the body. You may learn sewing skills informally or enroll in classes. You'll also need specific skills, such as good hand and eye coordination, and the right tools, such as a sewing machine. You may work from home or at a local tailor or laundry facility.
As a seamstress, you may either make garments from scratch for customers or construct other soft items, such as purses or home accessories. To be a well-rounded professional, you may want to learn how to sew as much as possible so that if a customer requests a specific item, you won't have to turn her down. In addition to constructing clothing, you'll have to know how to repair it, either by fixing a hem, zipper, or lost button.
You may find that enrolling in a vocational program helps you become a seamstress, as it provides formal training. Classes in pattern drafting, collar construction, and using a sewing machine may be helpful in preparing you for your career. You should also take a course or two in fabrics so that you learn how to care for and stitch different materials. Some seamstresses may take classes in fashion design or even earn a bachelor's degree in design.
In some cases, you can become a seamstress by apprenticing with a tailor or other stitcher or by shadowing another seamstress. You'll learn the skills you need on the job, both by observing the person you are working for and by getting a chance to practice. An apprenticeship can be informal, or you may receive credit for it.
You'll also need the appropriate tools to become a seamstress. If you plan on sewing a lot of garments from scratch, you may wish to get an industrial sewing machine. A standard home machine may serve you well if you plan on doing many alterations mostly by hand. You'll also need a good pair of dressmaker's shears, pins, needles, and plenty of thread.
As a seamstress, you can work for a company, such as a tailor or dry cleaning firm, at a specialty boutique, or from your home. If you choose to work at home and run your own business, you'll need to market yourself appropriately, either in the classifieds or on bulletin boards. You'll be more likely to be able to support yourself if you focus on constructing clothing instead of performing alterations exclusively.