For other uses see Dressmaker (disambiguation)
Pierre Balmain and the actress Ruth Ford, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1947

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.


Notable dressmakers

Related terms

  • 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.
  • Mantua-maker, in the eighteenth century a maker of mantuas, or in general a dressmaker.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A wardrobe coěnsultant or fashion advisor recommends styles and colors for a client.
  • 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.

See also


  • Butterick Publishing Company: "The Art of Garment Cutting, Fitting and Making", 1894.
  • Deckert, Barbara: Sewing for Plus Sizes: Design, Fit and Construction for Ample Apparel, Taunton, 1999, Appendix B: How to Find, Select, and Work With a Custom Clothier, pp. 142-143.
  • Kirke, Betty: "Madeleine Vionnet", Chronicle Books, 1998.
  • Picken, Mary Brooks: The Fashion Dictionary, Funk and Wagnalls, 1957.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dressmaker — Dress mak er, n. A maker of gowns, or similar garments; a mantuamaker. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dressmaker — ☆ dressmaker [dres′māk΄ər] n. a person who makes women s dresses and other clothes to order adj. designating or of a woman s suit, coat, etc. not cut on severe, mannish lines: cf. TAILORED dressmaking n …   English World dictionary

  • Dressmaker —    A dressmaker is a skilled seamstress who is capable of executing a professionally finished garment. The dressmaker of the late 1800s and the dressmaker of the twenty first century remain the same in that they must possess the ability to… …   Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry

  • dressmaker — UK [ˈdresˌmeɪkə(r)] / US [ˈdresˌmeɪkər] noun [countable] Word forms dressmaker : singular dressmaker plural dressmakers someone who makes women s clothes, especially as their job Derived word: dressmaking noun uncountable …   English dictionary

  • dressmaker — I. noun Date: 1803 one that makes dresses • dressmaking noun II. adjective Date: 1904 of women s clothes having softness, rounded lines, and intricate detailing < a dressmaker suit > …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • dressmaker — [[t]dre̱smeɪkə(r)[/t]] dressmakers N COUNT A dressmaker is a person who makes women s or children s clothes …   English dictionary

  • dressmaker — noun her dressmaker was the young widow of Colonel Wilcox Syn: tailor, seamstress, needlewoman; clothier; couturier, designer …   Thesaurus of popular words

  • dressmaker — dressmaking, n. /dres may keuhr/, n. 1. a person whose occupation is the making or alteration of women s dresses, coats, etc. adj. 2. (of women s clothing) having soft lines or elaborate detail. Cf. man tailored, tailored. [1795 1805; DRESS +… …   Universalium

  • dressmaker — noun A person who makes dresses …   Wiktionary

  • dressmaker — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) n. seamstress; stylist, fashion designer, modiste, couturier, couturière. See clothing. II (Roget s IV) n. Syn. seamstress, ladies tailor, modiste, designer, draper, manufacturing tailor, garment worker …   English dictionary for students