Arts & crafts

Pattern cutter

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

Annual Salary

£15,000 to £40,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

36 to 38 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; occasionally

7%
Future employment

There will be 7% fewer Pattern cutter jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

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

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
University

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
College

You could do a college course, for example:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Pattern Cutting
  • Level 2 Diploma in Fashion
  • Level 3 Diploma Garment Technology

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
Apprenticeship

You can do a fashion and textiles pattern cutter advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

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

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 careers from Discover Creative Careers.

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

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 accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to work on your own
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • 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 carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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