What Do Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers Do?
When a fashion designer creates a new garment, whether it’s a dress, suit, blouse, jacket or any other apparel, it needs a master pattern in order to be put into production. Patterns map out the individual pieces to be cut from a length of fabric or other material mechanically or by hand, which are then sewn into the outfit. As a fabric and apparel patternmaker, you will create the master patterns from a designer’s original model, in the different sizes and configurations that are required. You may also lay out and cut the fabric to be sewn.Due to growing use of computer modeling as well as other changes in clothing production, patternmaking jobs are on the decline. The number of patternmakers employed is expected to decrease by 25% from 2012 to 2022, with approximately 100 new jobs projected to open annually nationwide.
Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers Skills and Abilities
Patternmakers need a firm understanding of the principles of design and clothing construction and production, as well the ability to apply mathematics in order to diagram, modify and resize patterns. You must be competent with computers and general administration, and have superior time management skills. Good decision making, problem solving and critical thinking is also essential, along with the creativity to find solutions to construction issues as they arise.
Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers Duties
As a patternmaker, your principle job is to take an original model garment or design and create master patterns from it that will be used to cut materials and fabricate copies of the clothing for marketing and sale. Communicating with the designers, you’ll figure out how to convert their concepts into sellable products. You’ll determine the most efficient layouts of the patterns in order to conserve fabric, and make construction guidelines and mark seams as well as where to place details like pockets and buttons. You may cut out paper and cardboard patterns in addition to printing computer designs, and will modify patterns for different sizes, alternate materials and other changes as needed.Furthermore, some patternmakers are responsible for applying the patterns. You may be called upon to trace or otherwise mark the patterns onto fabric, and cut the material in the specified shapes using scissors or electronic cutting equipment. You will also test patterns created by you and others by making sample garments according to the pattern’s specifications and verifying their fit.
Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers Tools and Technology
To carry out their duties, patternmakers employ a variety of tools for working with fabrics and paper patterns. These may include:
- Scissors, fabric shears and utility knives
- Pattern punches
- Dressmaker rulers and tape measures
- Ironing boards and irons
- Dress form mannequins
You will also use computer programs to make electronic patterns, including computer aided design (CAD) software and graphics and image editors.
Education and Training for Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers
Most patternmaker positions call for a high school education or equivalent. While not necessary, coursework or a higher education degree in textiles or apparel may give you an advantage. Beginner positions usually provide a moderate amount of on-the-job training.
Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers Salary
As skilled crafting work, the average patternmaker salary is $41,000 a year. While starting and other lower-level positions may offer $22,000 or less, the highest paying jobs make over $82,000 a year, depending on location and company.
Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers Jobs by Geography
Patternmakers are generally hired by designers and clothing producers, and so are as broadly distributed as those businesses. While you can potentially find apparel producers anywhere, the most jobs are in cities such as New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles. Likewise the highest paying patternmaker positions are in New York and California, as well as Florida, Oregon and Minnesota.