A pattern maker is like an architect of fashion.
It’s their job to draw up a plan aka the pattern from a 2-dimensional flat sketch or replicate the pattern of an already existing garment.
This task can be done by hand or via computer aided design software.
Making patterns doesn’t sound as interesting as being a fashion designer?
Well, here are a few quick facts for you to consider before you completely write this path off…
EDITOR’S NOTE: Consider pattern making as an easier way into the fashion industry and transfer to any other department - like fashion design - from there.
But enough from me. Let’s talk to a real pattern maker!
Education/background: FIT, ASS, Pattern making 1985 to 1987
Current: Freelance Gerber Pattern Maker 33+ years
I was very lucky when I started my career in 1987. Manufacturing was thriving in the US and I was exposed to all aspects of the manufacturing process…
Working out of a sewing room. Actually, grading sizes by hand using the grading tabletop machine. Watching the marker makers trace the patterns onto the paper. Seeing fabric being spread on the table 5”- 12” high to cut the garments for production.
That experience alone helped me understand manufacturing and how I contribute to the process today.
I don’t consider myself a freelancer. I have a pattern service.I provide a business to business working relationship with all my clients no matter if they are start-ups or an existing business needing any of my services.
It wasn’t until I had purchased the Gerber software and a plotter that I realized I could be of service to many clients all over the world.
Yes. I have a beautiful home office with 4 dress forms, 2 computers and a plotter. I also have a sewing room for small projects that need samples mockup sewn.
I’ll have an initial phone chat with my clients about what they’re looking to do. Sometimes, we have facetime calls when needed but I also meet with them in person.
I get up and get ready for work around 8 and make coffee. I go into my home office and check my calendar to see what I must complete for the day. I do break for lunch and only take calls if they're scheduled. I try not to be distracted so the client I'm working with gets my full attention.
I self-promote every day. I send a personal message to every single person that I connect with via LinkedIn. I’d say that I generate my clientele through networking and word of mouth.
The Gerber system is software that is downloaded to your computer and it runs off of a key. You can send pattern files immediately via email all over the world. I absolutely think it’s a must for a new pattern maker to learn. It is costly, but well worth it.
I personally, haven’t worked - or even seen - sustainable fabrics. I’m apprehensive about them. I don’t know if the process of using plant-based fabrics or recycling goods is better than land fill. I do know the recycled paper process is more harm than good to the environment.
I’d say the Plus size business really started ramping up between 2008-2012 in the swimwear industry for me.
You have to do what you have a passion for. Become efficient at one thing. It could be knits, jackets, or swim. Just know that inside and out. Become the expert at one specific thing. Don’t be a jack of all trades.
Find yourself a mentor and just learn from your mistakes. Do not fake it until you make it. Ask questions, pay attention to details & listen.
Lack of communication. It always waists time and money when you don’t have proper information. Never assume anything. When in doubt, say something.