Do you love fabric? Can you sew? Do you love to see ideas on paper translate into real-world designs? And most importantly, are you highly driven and determined to succeed? If you answered yes to these questions, then a career in pattern making could be for you.

There is no particular way to become a pattern maker, however a background in sewing will always be a plus. Pattern creation is a highly specialised and skilled technique, yet some of the most successful pattern makers didn’t go down the route of expensive traditional fashion courses. It is quite easy to get started from the comfort of your own home with numerous online guides and free mini-courses. However, the benefits of attending a fashion school are many, from building a foundation in the financial aspects of this business, as well as mentoring and exposure in the fashion world.

Design Schools offering courses in Pattern Making

?     Central Saint Martins, London: listed as one of the best fashion schools in the world, featuring courses on pattern making as part of the fashion design programme.

?     Parsons School of Design, New York, Paris: One of the best courses in pattern making worldwide

?     London College of Fashion, London: This institute has a degree in Fashion Pattern Cutting.

Lessons from famous fashion designers

Gianni Versace, the Italian fashion designer was known for his daring and sensual fashions. He is an excellent example of a self-taught designer and pattern maker. His mother was a dressmaker, and Gianni was raised watching her work on designs in her boutique. Following on from this, he worked for several Italian ateliers before establishing his own company, which has become an empire.

Michael Kors, the American fashion designer left college after only attending for less than a year.

“I got to school and I had been sketching since I was really small, and I had such firm ideas about what I liked, so I was fighting with the teachers. I don't think that there's a rule in fashion in how you have to chart your course,” Kors stated at New York’s 92nd Street Y Incubator programme last June.

The Basics of Pattern Creation

There are two types of production of apparel, the first is what’s called a ‘Cut, Make and Trim (CMT) production, in which you the designer, provide your manufacturing factory with everything needed to produce your garments. The second is called a “Full Production Package”, in which you the designer, communicate your tech pack, however, the factory creates the patterns for you. If the former interests you as the more cost-effective option, then the use of computer-aided design (CAD) software will be incredibly helpful to you.

A pattern creates an accurate outline of your garment which then during manufacture, will produce the first fit sample of your collection. Your tech pack is crucial here to aid this process and will contain all specifications and instructions

needed by the manufacturer to produce your garment. The basic foundation patterns start as either paper (flat pattern making) or muslin (draping) patterns.

Step 1:

The flat pattern method: requires a pattern block or sloper (a basic template). The block pattern is adjusted for a perfect fit, and then any garment you design using that block will also fit - therefore the fit is built into the pattern.

The draping method: uses fabric pinned to a body form (or mannequin) to create a 3D shape.  The pinned fabric is then removed from the form and the pieces are traced onto pattern paper.

Step 2:

Pattern grading: with initial pattern ready, the next step is to create different sizes for your garment. Standard guidelines commonly used by high street retailers would be size 8 and upwards as well as the simple S, M, L for instance. Computer-aided design (CAD) software comes in useful here for this process, as increments can either be added to a pattern whole (called the draft technique), or to individual pattern pieces ( called the track technique).

The use of technology in pattern making

Nowadays, computer-aided design (CAD) software has become an invaluable tool for producing digitised easy to read patterns, increasing efficiency and productivity in manufacturing. Some important aspects to consider when choosing software are: compatibility with manufacturers printers, shareable file types, and pattern conversion capabilities.

A few CAD software solutions for pattern makers include:

Dress Shop 7 Pro by Livingsoft

PAD Systems

Modaris by Lectra

PatternSmith by Autometrix

Embroidery Studio E4 by Wilcom

Click & Sew by Wild Ginger

Accumark by Gerber





My Pattern Designer 2.0 by Livingsoft

Gemini Pattern Designer by Gemini CAD Systems

Smart Designer by Modern HighTech

Coreldraw by Corel

You can always learn more about the software by visiting these websites and comparing the product features, to narrow down the best choice of software for your needs.

This article has not been edited by Fibre2Fashion staff and is re-published with permission from