Clothing Makers - Fashion Terms of Interest to the Fashion Industry

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A clothing maker is a rather broad description.  In summary, clothing makers can include pattern makers, tailors, seamstress, dressmakers, home sewers, clothing factories and more.  Essentially, clothing makers would be any person or company that makes clothes.  We can think of an apparel maker (clothes maker or fashion maker) as someone that produces garments or fashion accessories.

Below are a few descriptions that may be of assistance to your research.

Dressmaker as an adjective denotes clothing made in the style of a dressmaker, frequently in the term dressmaker details which includes ruffles, frills, ribbon or braid trim. Dressmaker in this sense is contrasted to tailored and has fallen out of use since the rise of casual wear in the mid-twentieth century.  A dressmaker is a person who makes custom clothing for women, such as dresses, blouses, and evening gowns. Also called a mantua-maker (historically) or a modiste.

A custom dressmaker specializes in women's custom apparel, including day dresses, careerwear, suits, evening or bridal wear, sportswear, or lingerie.

A tailor makes custom menswear-style jackets and the skirts or trousers that go with them, for men or women.

Mantua-maker, in the eighteenth century a maker of mantuas, or in general a dressmaker.

  • Learn the meaning of mantua from our glossary.

Modiste, a maker of fashionable clothing and accessories, with the implication that the articles made reflect the current Paris fashions.

Sewing professional is the most general term for those who make their living by sewing, teaching, writing about sewing, or retailing sewing supplies. She or he may work out of her home, a studio, or retail shop, and may work part-time or full-time. She or he may be any or all or the following sub-specialities: A custom clothier makes custom garments one at a time, to order, to meet an individual customer's needs and preferences.

An alterations specialist or alterationist adjusts the fit of completed garments, usually ready-to-wear, or restyles them. Note that while all tailors can do alterations, by no means can all alterationists do tailoring.

Designers choose combinations of line, proportion, color, and texture for intended garments. They may have no sewing or patternmaking skills, and may only sketch or conceptualize garments.

Patternmakers flat draft the shapes and sizes of the numerous pieces of a garment by hand using paper and measuring tools or by computer using AutoCAD based software, or by draping muslin on a dressform.  Pattern makers often help fashion companies with making patterns and also clothing samples for fit review or salesman samples for showing to buyers.

     Find pattern makers here on Apparel Search.

     Learn about grading and marker making which is relevant to pattern makers.

A seamstress is someone who sews seams, or in other words, a machine operator in a factory who may not have the skills to make garments from scratch or to fit them on a real body. This term is not a synonym for dressmaker. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, a seamstress did handsewing, especially under the putting-out system. Older variants are seamster and sempstress.

Sewist is a relatively new term, combining the words "sew" and "artist", to describe someone who creates sewn works of art, which can include clothing or other items made with sewn elements.

Clothing factories are companies that manufacture clothing in small or large quantities.  Clothing manufacturers employ sewers, fabric cutters, embroiderers, printers, and other professionals that are involved in various aspects of garment production.

Related terms:

A wardrobe consultant or fashion advisor recommends styles and colors for a client. They do not actually make clothing.

If you are planning on making apparel, you may want to research the apparel manufacturers components section or the fashion trimming area.  You will need trims & notions such as thread, fabric, buttons, zippers, etc., to complete your project.  It may also help you to view other trimming terms.

Written by ML111913

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