How to Become a Tailor

tailor materials

If you have sewing skills and are interested in fashion and design, you could make a great tailor. Tailors produce custom-made clothes for men and women and can work as part of a team or alone. To be successful in this job, it’s required that you know different fabric types and their properties, have the ability to focus on details, know different sewing techniques, and can effectively communicate with the clients.

What do Tailors do?

As a tailor, you would be required to design new or alter clothes that were purchased somewhere else and don’t exactly meet the client’s needs. Duties of the tailor usually include:

  • agreeing a style and fabric with the client
  • negotiating a timeframe and costs
  • creating a design either by customising an existing pattern or developing a new one
  • producing a pattern by hand or using a computer-aided design programme
  • fitting the garment and making necessary alterations

Tailors usually need to create a mock-up of a garment using cheaper fabric before they work with expensive materials. As a tailor, you would also need to spend some time researching new design ideas from fashion magazines, journals, brochures, and websites.

Entry Requirements and Qualifications

The standard path to the career of a tailor is through an apprenticeship with an experienced tailor. Usually, young people from school would need to look for a tailor who needs an apprentice on their own. However, there could be apprenticeship schemes you could be eligible for. The availability and entry requirements differ depending on the area you live in. For current openings, visit the Apprenticeships website.

It is a good idea to take a college programme to learn sewing skills and gain some relevant experience that could help you in your job search. Depending on what you would like to specialise on in future, you could choose one of these courses:

  • City & Guilds levels 1 to 3 in Creative Techniques in Fashion
  • ABC awards in Fashion and Textiles
  • BTEC National Certificate or Diploma in Art and Design

Newham College offers an 18-week pre-apprenticeship course as part of the Bespoke Tailoring Apprenticeship Programme. The programme is conducted in partnership with Savile Row Bespoke and successful graduates have a chance to get employed. However, because the number of opportunities is very limited, the competition is very intense.


Training and Development

You would need to work alongside an experienced tailor for a few years to learn all skills and become bespoke tailor yourself. If you join the four-year Bespoke Tailoring Apprenticeship programme, you would be trained in hand and machine sewing, pattern-cutting, and garment construction.

If you work in the manufacturing industry, your employer could encourage you to take the ABC Level Certificate in Manufacturing Sewn Products.

Hours and Income

As a tailor, you would normally work 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You would need to work some irregular hours in case there is a deadline to meet.

The following are the estimated levels of salary for tailors in the UK, according to the National Career Service:

Tailor Salaries



New Tailor



Experienced Tailor









You would be able to make up to £50,000 if you work with a high quality bespoke outlet on Savile Row.

Opportunities and Career Growth

Job advertisements are published in the local and national press and in some industry publications, such as:

Tailors in larger companies would have a chance to progress to more senior roles, such as supervisor or manager. Also, with experience, you could become self-employed and start your own sewing business.