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Pattern cutter

Pattern cutters create pattern templates based on drawings from a fashion designer.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £40,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements. You could start as a pattern cutting assistant or sample machinist with a clothing manufacturer or fashion design company and work your way up.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship

You could also do an introductory college course in fashion, or a foundation degree, HND or degree in fashion or garment technology. 

Creative Skillset has more information about a pattern cutter’s role. 

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • the ability to interpret a designer’s drawings
  • teamworking skills
  • maths skills for measurements and calculations
  • an eye for detail, shape and proportion
  • technical drawing skills (computer and hand)
  • good concentration levels

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • draping pieces of material over a dummy, shaping and pinning them around the ‘body’ until they fit correctly, then cutting out a pattern based on the pieces
  • altering and shaping flat, standard pattern 'blocks' into a style
  • modifying non-standard pattern 'bases' taken from the company's pattern library
  • working with machinists to make up samples
  • using computer-aided design programs to make up some patterns
  • using traditional hand-drawing methods
  • working closely with the in-house sample machinist or manufacturer to make up an example garment
  • working with designers and garment technologists to produce the final pattern

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000

Experienced: £18,000 to £25,000

Highly Experienced: £30,000 to £40,000 (specialist or luxury clothes)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You would work 37 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday, and possibly overtime. You could be based in a studio, workshop or design area in a factory.

In a larger company you might work alongside pattern graders and sample machinists.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress to head pattern cutter or grader or, with further training, fashion designer or buyer.

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Last updated: 13 December 2016