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Patternmaker: Career Information About Becoming a Patternmaker

Education requirements vary for patternmakers. Read ahead to find out more about training, duties and skills required. You can also gain insight into the potential salary and employment outlook for patternmakers, as well as information on related careers.

Career Definition for a Patternmaker

Patternmakers are a vital part of the fashion and manufacturing industries. In some companies the job title for a patternmaker may be apparel patternmaker or fabric patternmaker. It is the job of the patternmaker to create a pattern either free-hand or with computer-aided drafting software. Patternmakers use their knowledge of fabrics, sewing skills and ability to alter garments to draft a pattern that replicates a design concept. Eventually, a patternmaker's pattern is used by an apparel manufacturer to mass produce the garment for clothing retailers. With formal education and experience, patternmakers can pursue careers as fashion designers, manufacturing managers and fit designers.

Education 2-year degrees and certificates available
Job Skills Concept interpretation ability, sewing skills, detail orientation, freehand drawing skills, familiarity with computer illustration programs
Median Salary (2015)* $43,900 for fabric and apparel patternmakers
Job Growth (2014-2024)* -26% for fabric and apparel patternmakers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

There are technical and vocational schools online and in most communities that offer a 2-year degree or certificate of completion program in patternmaking. In addition, junior colleges and 4-year universities and colleges offer courses for students interested in patternmaking and the fashion design field. The courses required for being a patternmaker are the same or similar to the courses that are needed to be a fashion designer. Patternmaking students should expect to take classes in design, anatomy, sewing and tailoring, math, drafting and apparel construction.

Job Skills Needed

Successful patternmakers know how to interpret a design concept and put it to paper. They have excellent sewing skills and are very detailed oriented. A pattern maker should be able to draw freehand and also be familiar with computer software programs like Illustrator.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that a rapid decline of 26% in jobs for fabric and apparel patternmakers is expected between 2014 and 2024. According to the BLS, fabric and apparel patternmakers earned a median annual wage of $43,900 in 2015.

Alternative Career Options

For other career choices in the field of fashion, check out these options:

Sewer and Tailor

Similar to patternmakers, this category of workers may hand or machine sew a garment for custom fitting, measure clients and make alterations. Training typically occurs on the job, but taking standalone classes is encouraged. In 2015, the BLS noted that hand sewers earned a median income of $23,640, while tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers had a median income of $25,830 per year. For the 2014-2024 decade, the job outlook for hand sewers was reported as a 10% decline, and a 9% decline in jobs was expected for tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers.

Fashion Designer

Fashion designers usually have some form of postsecondary training prior to entering the industry. Fashion designers may sketch their own designs or use computer-aided design software. A 3% growth in employment was predicted for fashion designers from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS. In 2015, the median salary of fashion designers was listed as $63,670.

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