Tailor/Dressmaker Kaihanga Kākahu

Tailors/dressmakers design, make, alter and repair clothing. 

Tailors/dressmakers may do some or all of the following:

  • discuss customers' clothing requirements
  • take customers' measurements and fit clothing on customers
  • estimate how much the clothing will cost to make
  • source materials
  • mark and cut the material according to the design
  • sew clothing
  • do alterations or add details such as padding to clothing
  • design or alter patterns.

Physical Requirements

Tailors/dressmakers need to have good hand-eye co-ordination, normal colour vision and good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses).

Useful Experience

Useful experience for tailors/dressmakers includes:

  • community or night courses in dressmaking
  • work as a sewing machinist
  • work in a clothing factory or workroom.

Personal Qualities

Tailors/dressmakers need to be:

  • creative, with an eye for colour
  • quick and neat
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • able to work well under pressure
  • able to be honest with their clients about how clothes look on them
  • good at customer service
  • good communicators and listeners, with the ability to interpret a client's requirements.


Tailors/dressmakers need to have:

  • sewing skills and knowledge of tailoring techniques
  • knowledge of a range of sewing equipment 
  • understanding of garment construction, and pattern-making skills
  • knowledge of human body shapes
  • clothing design skills
  • knowledge of different fashions
  • knowledge of fabric types, colours and fabric care
  • cutting skills.

Tailors/dressmakers who run their own business also need business skills.



  • work full or part-time hours. Self-employed tailors/dressmakers may work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends
  • work in their own homes, workrooms, factories or showrooms
  • may travel locally or to other areas to visit clients.

Tailor/Dressmakers can earn around $23 per hour.

Pay for tailors/dressmakers varies depending on skills and experience.

  • Tailors/dressmakers can earn $23 or more an hour. 

Sources: New Zealand Fashion Tech, 2017; and Competenz, 2017.

Tailors/dressmakers may progress to set up their own business, or with further training become garment technicians, patternmakers or fashion designers.

Tailors/dressmakers may specialise in:

  • alterations
  • wedding and special occasion gowns
  • suits
  • corporate wear
  • work wear.

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements to become a tailor/dressmaker. However, most employers prefer to hire people with sewing experience or qualifications, such as a New Zealand Certificate in Fashion Technology (Level 3).