How to start a dressmaking business

Updated April 17, 2017

Service-related businesses dominate the market, and a dressmaking business fills a need many are willing to pay for. If you are a skilled seamstress, you can open a store, or operate from your home in some communities. You will need a designated work area and a dressing room. Plan ahead, put a few essentials in place and let your reputation build your dressmaking business.

Decide if you will lease a commercial space or start a business from your home. Contact your Small Business Association for local zoning ordinances if operating from your home.

Go to your town or city hall to file a fictitious business name statement (also known as a DBA, doing business as, or assumed name statement). It is required for all government forms, licenses and permits. Avoid a fictitious business name statement by using your personal name as your company name. Apply for your business license through the Clerk Recorder's Office.

Apply for your Employer Identification Number online at, or contact the IRS by phone, fax or mail. You will use this number on your business activities and self-employed tax returns.

Contact the Small Business Association for help, tips and benefits. SBA benefits you may qualify for include business loans such as commercial property, equipment and capital loans.

Maintain your sewing machine in good working order. Invest in a serger as one of your main pieces of dressmaking equipment.

Set up work tables, your iron and ironing board and a steamer.

Bring in a hanging rack or install a pole to hang dresses brought in for mending or alteration and to hang finished pieces.

Add to your dressmaking supplies: scissors, tape measures, pins, thimbles, needles, sewing machine needles and bobbins.

Prepare for image consulting or personal figure analysis. Build a portfolio or album of dress deigns. Buy or make a dress form to size your clients' dresses.

Hang a mirror and build a small platform for your client to stand on while you fit the dress and mark the hemline.

Advertise with flyers. Post these around town. Inform the local dry cleaners of your new dressmaking business and ask them to keep flyers on their counter to pass along. You can return the favour by distributing their flyer to your customers.

Print business cards. Use a logo or eye-catching colour.

Place advertising magnets on your vehicle doors.

Offer coupons or discounts to keep your customers coming back.


Check out what tax deductions are available for using your home for business and your vehicle for advertising.


Do not let working at home cause you to relax about your work. Set a schedule and keep it. Poor quality work and lack of professionalism will ruin your reputation and cost you clients.

Things You'll Need

  • Business location
  • Business name statement
  • City business license
  • Federal Employer Identification Number
  • Sewing machine and supplies
  • Serger
  • Tables
  • Iron
  • Steamer
  • Hanging rack
  • Flyers
  • Business cards
  • Magnets for cars
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About the Author

Sabiene Annwrit's writing career began after she graduated from the Institute of Children's Literature in 2008. She has taught creative writing to grades 6 through 12, edited web pages and has written business letters, proposals, resumes and advertising materials for more than 28 years.