I'm looking for a single word or a short (fewer than 25 character) phrase that means "sewing that is specific to clothing" but isn't gender-specific like "dressmaking".

Options that I have considered and dismissed include

  • "tailoring" - too specific as it relates directly to the act of making clothing fit a person rather than the simple act of making the clothing.
  • "dressmaking" - gender-specific issues.
  • "sewing" - too broad as it does not relate strictly to clothes.

For use, this will be used as a tag on another SE site so it will not be in a sentence but should follow the SE tagging style. Generally, our activity tags use the gerund form (crocheting, sewing, painting, etc).

The only restriction is that the word/phrase be shorter than 25 characters including spaces (hyphens). Because this would be a tag, it's important that the term be commonly-used so that it's something a user would try to tag a question with rather than being obscure.

I've been looking around online and thinking it over but I can't seem to find any good options and since I don't sew/make clothes myself, I don't know what other options are out there.

  • It might help to know which SE site.
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 20:25
  • @cobaltduck Arts & Crafts. It's the site I moderate. :)
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 20:26
  • Perfect, then I assume you are looking to modify or create a synonym for your existing clothing tag?
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 20:28
  • Neither. "Clothing" has nothing inherently to do with sewing, much as sewing doesn't require clothing. We're trying to come up with a tag that implies both at the same time. We haven't decided whether this attempt to find "one tag to rule them all" is over-complicating things or not but I'd like to avoid that discussion here... as that's not what this question is really about.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 20:37
  • "Garment workers" is apparently the term that the labor unions prefer.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 11:52

2 Answers 2


The term garment making has some usage:

From Thesaurus.com:

garment making as in rag trade

Synonyms for garment making

noun clothing industry

  • dressmaking
  • garment industry
  • Seventh Avenue
  • fashion design
  • haute couture
  • tailoring

HOME SEWING AND SIMPLE GARMENT MAKING (London College of Fashion course)

Garment Making Sew cute outfits for kids, whip up a sleek skirt for yourself or create a playful costume — homemade clothes have unbeatable charm and personality. (Fiskars website "Crafting and Sewing" category)

{Sew} Get Started: Garment Making Basics (Blog tutorial)

SEWU and SEWA are women's unions that organise and mobilise 'workers' in informal trades, including, in both cases, garment making. (Globalisation and New Identities: A View from the Middle By Peter Alexander & Marcelle C. Dawson, 2006)

Garment making industries (2012 publication by Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce)

The phrases making garments and garment construction might also be options.


I think this page on ApparelSearch.com might be helpful to you:

Clothing Makers - Fashion Terms of Interest to the Fashion Industry

From this list, here are the terms that seem to best fit what you're looking for:

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.

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.

I realize that "modiste" might be too specific if the clothing maker you're discussing isn't necessarily concerned with the height of fashion, and "designer" might be too general since it doesn't conclusively mean someone who actually sews the clothes.

I would say that of the above terms, "custom clothier" would work best. It can refer to any gender and doesn't refer to a maker of any specific type of clothing.

  • I'm not looking for the term for the person. I'm looking for a word for the craft they perform. This would be the equivalent of dressmaker, not dressmaking.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 0:25
  • In that case, what about the "clothing making" of the page's title?
    – Nicole
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 0:26
  • 2
    @Catija clothesmaking is not without precedent. And I say that after thinking tailoring was entirely appropriate, then I think, sure, a cobbler is not the same as a shoemaker.
    – stevesliva
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 2:08

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