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Arts & crafts

Pattern cutter

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

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £30,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

36 to 38 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; occasionally

Future employment

There will be 4.8% fewer Pattern cutter jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

In your day-to-day duties you may:

  • follow the designer's notes and instructions
  • drape and pin material pieces onto a dummy to get the right fit, then cut out a pattern based on the pieces
  • alter and shape flat, standard pattern 'blocks' into a style
  • modify non-standard pattern 'bases' taken from the company's pattern library
  • work with machinists to make up product samples
  • use computer-aided design programs to make up patterns
  • use traditional hand-drawing methods
  • check quality
  • work with designers and garment technologists to produce a final pattern ready for production

Working environment

You could work in a workshop, in a factory or in a creative studio.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • specialist and short courses

You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in fashion or garment technology.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
For more information

You could do a college course, for example:

  • Level 2 Award in Fashion - Pattern Cutting
  • Level 2 Diploma in Fashion
  • Level 3 Certificate in Fashion and Textiles

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
For more information

You can do a material cutter intermediate apprenticeship, or fashion and textiles pattern cutter advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
For more information

You could start as a pattern cutting assistant or sample machinist with a clothing manufacturer or fashion design company and work your way up.

Other routes

You can do short courses in pattern cutting through university fashion departments, colleges and adult education centres.

More information

Career tips

To get onto courses and find jobs, you'll need a portfolio of your work to show off your skills and creative ideas.

Professional and industry bodies

You may find it useful to join The Textile Institute for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

Further information

You can get more information on working in creative industries from Discover Creative Careers.

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You could become head pattern cutter or grader or, with further training, move into fashion design or buying.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • physical skills like movement, coordination and dexterity
  • the ability to work on your own
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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