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Pattern Maker - Fashion Career Profile

Written by FS StaffJanuary 4, 2012
Pattern Makers

Did You Know.... Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion offers BFA's in Fashion, Fashion Merchandising, Textile Design, Fashion Marketing, Fashion Styling, Costume Design, and Fashion Product Development. Learn more.

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What do Pattern Makers do?  Where do Pattern Makers work?
FS takes a look:

About Pattern Makers

Pattern makers work closely with fashion designers and design departments to create an initial rough draft of what the designer has in mind for any given garment. Independent designers that are just starting out might create their own patterns, but if they are established or work for a large company, they usually work with a team of pattern makers. Years ago, pattern makers created sample patterns by hand. Today, they use a variety of advanced techniques and machines to produce samples.

Pattern Maker Jobs

Pattern makers main function is to take the designer’s ideas and translate them into
pattern samples. After the samples are made, the designer may request a few tweaks
before the final sample pattern is made. It is up to the pattern maker to create a final
sample that will be used to mass-produce the garment.

Pattern makers work for fashion designers, retail companies, textile companies, design
studios, and other manufacturing facilities. Some pattern makers are self-employed, so
they might work for multiple clients at a time.

Pattern Maker Salaries

Depending on the type and size of the company, experience, geographic location, and
education, pattern makers may earn as little as $19,000 on the low e, up to $85,000 (or
more) on the high end. Lower salaries are just a starting point for pattern makers with
little to no experience. By the time they reach mid-level, which may only be a few years,
pattern makers can earn $40,000 or more per year.

Self-employed pattern makers may earn more or less depending on the same factors listed
above, along with the number of projects they choose to tackle each year.

Programs to Consider:

Becoming a Pattern Maker

Employers prefer an associate or bachelor’s degree in fashion design, pattern making,
pattern engineering, or pattern-making technology. Many employers also look for entry-
level workers with experience through an internship, apprenticeship, or paid position.
Retail sales experience or experience in textiles or apparel design is also helpful.

Other important skills include computer skills, organizational skills, math proficiency, the
ability to multi-task, precision and accuracy, and the natural ability to work with different
body proportions. Because pattern makers might work with industry professionals
overseas, the ability to speak Spanish or Chinese is a huge plus.

Job Trends for Pattern Makers

Although some consider pattern maker a low-level position, there is no doubt that this
is a specialized field. In fact, the talent pool is small (less than 10,000 at last count),
and the best of the best can command higher salaries than some fashion designers. Top-
level pattern makers will have no problems finding work in the coming years and job
opportunities for entry-level pattern makers should remain steady (fair) in the coming
years. The best places for jobs in this field are California, the Southeast, and New
England, as apparel manufacturing is quite active in these areas.