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Sewing Professions: Overview of Career Education Programs

Sewing professionals are needed in many industries, including apparel manufacturing, shoe making and furniture making. It's a challenging career that requires specialized knowledge and skill. Most training and education can be gained on the job, through an apprenticeship or by attending vocational school.

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Sewing Job Descriptions

Sewing professionals work with materials bound together by needle and thread. Apparel workers cut materials and sew them into clothing, while tailors or dressmakers may create custom clothing, alter existing apparel or repair garments for clients. Many jobs are available in the realm of manufacturing, where workers commonly perform specialized tasks in large-scale garment production.

Fabric and apparel patternmakers take a clothing designer's original model and convert it into a pattern that can be laid out on a length of fabric for replication. This work usually involves using computers to outline the parts and draw in details to indicate features like pleats or buttonholes.

Sewing machine operators assemble and repair sewing equipment. They should know techniques for reinforcing seams and attaching buttons, hooks, zippers and other details that go into clothing production.

Education Options

Employers in the sewing trade prefer to hire those who are at least high school graduates or the equivalent. However, vocational schools and sewing schools offer programs that teach advanced techniques and even business management. Vocational training programs can take anywhere from six months to three years to complete and may prepare students for jobs in the garment business. Classes or degrees in business administration or marketing may also prove useful in the sewing industry. Aspiring sewing professionals may also want to seek out apprenticeships in their area to gain supervised, hands-on experience.

Some schools may offer a professional certificate program. This may give students the opportunity to build their professional portfolios while teaching sewing and alteration techniques for upholstery and window treatments. Sewing certificates may give students the knowledge necessary to help them enter design school. Earning a certificate can take anywhere from 1-2 years while students prepare to become sewing machine operators or apparel sample-makers. Other coursework it may cover:

  • Patternmaking
  • Computer-aided design for sewing
  • Assembly line machinery
  • Leather handbag and shoe repair

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that sewing and tailoring jobs were expected to only grow 1% from 2010-2020, while hand sewing positions were predicted to decrease 5% during the same time. The BLS also stated that tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers earned an average salary of $29,170 per year as of May 2012.

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Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics