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A dressmaker is a professional who is trained to undertake a range of tasks to create or improve wearable products. Despite the name, this person's work is not limited to the making of dresses. He or she constructs, alters, repairs, or revises any kind of custom clothing for women, including dresses, but extending to include many other areas of clothing, including some that might be quite unexpected from the name.
One of the specialty areas that dressmakers focus on is gowns. Some specialize in making traditional bridal gowns, while others specialize in ones like non-traditional and culturally influenced gowns. Custom gowns, including gowns for people with disabilities, formal gowns, gowns for ballroom dancing, and historical garments are other areas of specialization. For young women, prom and graduation dresses and flower girl dresses are also available.
A dressmaker may also focus on performance wear, including costumes for private use, theater, and dance. Other specialties include undergarments, such as bras and corsets, swimsuits, custom jeans, outerwear like coats, and decorative or ornamental areas such as beading, embroidery, fabric painting, and smocking. Some specialize in pattern creation.
Another direction in which this type of professional may take her or his craft is towards accessories. Some specialize in handbags, while others choose to focus on millinery or hatmaking. Some move even farther from the traditional focus of the profession, and lend their talents to the making of custom apparel for dogs, doll clothes, home furnishings, or clergy robes.
Working with a dressmaker can take several different directions. Some people already have an idea, a pattern, a fabric, or all of these. They may collaborate with the professional and make joint decisions. Other people go to a dressmaker seeking fashion advice and allow themselves to be guided by the professional's expertise. Their are several professional organizations for people in this field, including the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals and the American Sewing Guild.
Those who wish to become a dressmaker should know that there are several paths to take. People can take group or private lessons from an established professional, go on a sewing retreat, or enroll in formal training. Those interested in becoming clothing professionals can attend a school, such as the Couture Sewing School, The Sewing Workshop, and Couture Bridal Sewing School. An apprenticeship is another possible career path.