How to become a pattern cutter

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

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
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What you'll do

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.

Career path and progression

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

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a pattern cutter right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Fashion & Textiles

  • Provider: NORTH BROMSGROVE HIGH SCHOOL
  • Start date: 01 September 2021
  • Location: Bromsgrove

GCE A Level in Design and Technology: Fashion and Textiles

  • Provider: WIRRAL GRAMMAR SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
  • Start date: 01 September 2021
  • Location: Wirral

Jobs In the United Kingdom

The Find a job service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available.

Skills assessment

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