What is a Seamstress? Everything You Need To Know

When setting out to design and launch your own clothing line, you must understand the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in changing fabric into a garment or a fashionable piece of clothing. It gives you a grander sense of what goes into developing a brand. Need that dress altered or any other clothing alteration? That suit fitted properly? A seamstress plays a direct role in these and more.

But what does the an experienced seamstress job entail? Let’s learn more about seamstresses, their work, roles, and responsibilities.  

What is a Seamstress?

Closeup of a seamstress sewing

Simply put, a seamstress is someone who sews professionally.

A seamstress dedicates time, energy, and expertise to crafting various garments. If you’re planning on manufacturing a high volume of clothes, a seamstress is essential to your success.

As with an expert pattern maker , it’s crucial to understand the work of seamstresses before you begin designing garments. These experienced professionals are instrumental in nailing the look and feel of a new clothing line.

Experienced vs Less Experienced Seamstress

The main difference between an experienced seamstress and a less experienced seamstress lies in their level of expertise and proficiency. An experienced seamstress has honed their fashion design skills over years of practice and has a deep understanding of delicate fabrics construction and sewing machines techniques. They are capable of handling complex designs from a fashion designer, working with a variety of fabrics, and solving challenging sewing problems as a seamstress or tailor. 

In contrast, a less experienced seamstress may still be developing their tailoring skills and may not have the same level of precision and efficiency as their more experienced counterparts. They may require more guidance and supervision when working on intricate projects like formal wear or with materials like silk. Ultimately, the experience of a seamstress plays a significant role in the quality and precision of the garments they produce.

What Do Seamstresses Do?

TEG seamstress smiling

Whether it’s fabrics, seams, dresses, buttons, seamstresses have many creative areas of expertise to help you design garments for the perfect fit and style you’re looking for in your line of clothing.

Depending on the employer, a seamstress could perform various services to help clients. Things like including mending garments, helping design dresses , and ensuring clothes fit. They can also create things like belts, handbags, and outerwear.

They can therefore find work in fashion production houses, textile factories, and designer shops.

Some Sewing Terminology

To better understand sewing and the world of seamstresses, it’s a good idea to explore some standard terms found in everyday responsibilities.

  • Backstitch – backstitching is a way to ensure stitches in a seam are stable. A seamstress will perform a backstitch to secure seams.
  • Basting – Basting refers to temporary stitches. These are looser stitches to hold garments in place.
  • Bias – This is a direction in the fabric, specifically a 45-degree diagonal.
  • Beeswax – Using beeswax on the thread makes things a lot easier. It provides smoothness, strength, and ease to sewing.
  • Bobbin – A bobbin is a spool in a sewing machine that provides seamstresses with a bottom thread
  • Darts – Darts are crucial in creating the shape of the clothes around specific areas of the body, like shoulders. These are strategic folds and tucks in the fabric.
  • Ease – This is how much room in the clothing the wearer has to move around in. A garment with more ease allows the model to move comfortably.
  • Alteration – This is the act of adjusting clothing via sewing and cutting to make clothes fit better.

The Difference Between Seamstress and Tailor

A seamstress is a textile professional who creates, sews, and manufactures clothing, like a dressmaker. On the other hand, a tailor goes about performing alterations on existing clothing, ensuring that a client has the correct garment measurements and sizes. The two professions have many overlapping design responsibilities, and it can be a little confusing as to which does what.

In short, there are a few key differences, but both seamstresses and tailors have a lot of experience with sewing clothes, and both are invaluable assets when manufacturing clothing .

What Skills Does a Seamstress Need?

So now that we know more about what a seamstress does, what does it take to become one?

Some crucial seamstress skills are:

  • Extensive sewing experience with all types of fabric
  • Attention to detail
  • Great hand-eye coordination

Where Can You Find a Seamstress?

Interior of the TEG seamstress area

So, where can you find a seamstress in Los Angeles?

At The Evans Group, a full-service fashion development and production house, we offer comprehensive cut and sew services to all of our clients as part of the more extensive clothing line design process. As such, clients have unfettered access to our entire team of experienced designers from day one, ensuring that their haute couture turns out precisely how they envisioned it.

We offer services to both emerging and established independent designers.

Seamstress Frequently Asked Questions

Generally, a seamstress sews clothes, fabrics, and apparel for a living. A tailor works at altering existing clothing and apparel to fit a customer. They can make clothes as well, such as suits and coats, or even formalwear or gowns, and might be tasked with hemming and mending. TEG’s seamstresses are all very highly skilled at sewing all types of garments from scratch through completion without a reference garment.  This takes extensive sewing skills with years of experience and only the best seamstresses are selected to work at TEG.

Seamstresses generally either sew samples or production.  Samplemaker seamstresses sew a garment from start to finish, on multiple machines usually, with or without an existing garment for reference.  A production seamstress will sew only a certain component of the garment with one machine in a production line.  Their skills are geared towards sewing a simple process quickly in bulk.

Seamstresses generally work in a company sewing clothes for a brand or brands.  They use fabric that is already cut with a pattern and sew it together to complete the style.  Tailors usually work to sew clothes for individuals either custom-made for them or altered for them individually. They are usually in more of a service-oriented role and a job position within a company.

Seamstresses can specialize in any types of garments.  That can be type of fabrication such as knitwear vs wovens, or the category of clothing including dresses, womenswear, menswear, outerwear, swimwear, etc. 

Dexterity is the key skill a seamstress needs to be successful.  They need to be good with their hands in constructing the garment, paying attention to detail.  A ‘heavy hand’ is less successful meaning they are a bit sloppy or careless in the details or construction. Also, the ability to follow directions, either on a pattern card or mimicking a reference sample is key.

The role of the seamstress is key in the garment industry.  They are who make the clothes we buys, sell, and wear each day.  This role is yet to be automated so the skills and welfare of seamstresses is very important to ensure fair and ethical practices are at play in the global economy they come from.

Seamstresses have been around for many centuries, as far back as the ancient times in Egypt and Greece.  They created the clothes for royalty and wealthy people.  Often this was done in slavery.  The task has remained the same and it still remains a position of creating clothing for others, only now generally in a paid position.  However, the disparity remains in the often underpaid role serving a higher class of person. Human rights are more in the forefront in modern times, and much improvement has been made, but it is a work in progress to ensure standards are set globally for the trade.  TEG is a leader in ensuring that it’s seamstresses receive living wages and are employed in excellent conditions.

Seamstresses either work directly or indirectly with fashion designers, costume designers, and others in the industry.  A samplemaker often works directly with a designer to realize their designs with a pattern and fabric.  A production seamstress will not and works in a group to orchestrate the finalized designs into garments in a production line.

Seamstresses rely on sewing machines, thread, needles, an iron, and scissors. The machinery will depend on the types of garments being sewn, as is the thread and needles, an iron is used to press the garment both during construction and after, and scissors are used to trim the threads throughout.

The fit of a garment is determined by the pattern created by the patternmaker.  The construction of the garment however is dependent on the seamstress.  The quality and detail of their sewing will determine if the garment is finely sewn or rushed for completion.  Generally, rushing through a garment is when errors occur and the more time taken the higher the quality of a garment.

Current trends include sustainable ethical practices in the fashion industry.  As is vertical integration, meaning everything in one location.  TEG has focused on ethical and sustainable practices in a vertically-integrated operation since it started nearly 20 years ago and has instilled them in every project since.  Ensuring these are at play in every step of the process is what sets them apart from a trend, however, or something for marketability only.


Los Angeles Cut and Sew Manufacturing

Situated in DTLA’s Arts District, TEG’s cut and sew services employ the extensive talents of various seamstresses, sewists, and tailors. With custom orders, there’s no minimum required, with up to 50 unique pieces per style.

The sewing team answers to an experienced project manager. The project manager, in turn, initiates in-depth, daily quality control to ensure that a designer’s clothing line is coming out as planned.

Moreover, with these in-depth and nuanced services, you can employ several talented seamstresses to not only start a clothing line but make it stand out. Learn more about our in-depth fashion design process by visiting our FAQs .

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