Designers might draw patterns that look beautiful and interesting, but whether the pattern will actually work or not is known only when the pattern has been cut and made into clothing. Pattern cutters create templates for the kinds of patterns that will be used in clothing lines, based on illustrations created by the fashion company's designers.
After looking at the drawings created by the fashion designer, pattern cutters create the pattern pieces in the form of pattern blocks, pattern bases or pattern dummies, which are patterns that are draped over a dummy to give a sense of what the garment will look like. However, some pattern cutters use computer-generated models to get a sense of how the patterns will look. The pattern cutter also works with the machinist to create sample clothes so the fashion designers can determine if the patterns will work for the clothing line. The pattern designer works with the fashion designer to determine if the pattern sample will be worthy of becoming a final pattern.
Pattern cutters usually work between 37 and 39 hours a week. They work in well-lit and cool studios, though some pattern cutters are self-employed. The studio can be part of a clothing manufacturing plant or a specialist firm. Those pattern cutters who use computers spend a lot of time in front of a screen.
Skills and attributes
Pattern cutters should have an interest in fashion and have an eye for art. They must also have good analytical skills since they must be able to look at the fashion designer's art and determine how the pattern is supposed to look. Computer skills are needed for those who use computers to design patterns. Pattern cutters are expected to work quickly because production deadlines often depend a quick turnaround.
The need for pattern cutters is expected to grow by one per cent until 2018, which is much slower than average. This industry is expected to grow slowly due to an increase in the number of clothes being created internationally. However, fashion designers are not as likely to be outsourced as clothing manufacturers as these positions are usually kept in-house.
As of 2014, the average salary for a fashion pattern cutter was £12,000 per year, according to the UK's national careers advice service.