Clothing Pattern Maker
Ringa Waitohu Kākahu
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Clothing pattern makers interpret clothing designs and measurements, draw outlines of clothing pieces and create paper patterns from them.
Clothing pattern makers with no experience can expect to earn about
$14-$15 per hour
Experienced clothing pattern makers usually earn about
$23-$25 per hour
Current job prospects
How many people are doing this job?
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
Pay for clothing pattern makers varies depending on skills, experience and the type of patterns they make.
- Pattern makers with no experience can expect to earn the minimum wage or a little more.
- Experienced clothing pattern makers usually earn about $23 to $25 an hour.
- MoreBusiness.com website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website - information about minimum pay rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Clothing pattern makers may do some or all of the following:
- study and interpret drawings, written instructions or samples of clothing designs
- draw the outline of clothing pieces by adapting existing patterns, copying existing garments or drafting a new one
- use a computer to produce a pattern
- cut out the pattern by hand or print out a copy using a computer
- specify garment sewing instructions
- be involved in fitting
- adapt patterns for different sizes (grading).
Skills and knowledge
Clothing pattern makers need to have:
- excellent knowledge of pattern making, and sewing codes and symbols
- knowledge of different sewing equipment and methods
- knowledge of different fabrics
- knowledge of body shapes
- drawing skills and the ability to interpret drawings
- computer skills, including the ability to use computer-aided design (CAD) software.
Clothing pattern makers:
- usually work regular office hours
- work in factories and workrooms
- work in conditions which can be noisy.
What's the job really like?
Clothing Pattern Maker
Any advice for aspring pattern makers?
You need to find what excites you about fashion. You need that passion because fashion's a very hard industry to be in. I've tried to walk away from it but I can't. Fashion has got into my bloodstream, and now I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie and I enjoy the buzz of fashion.
What's the main role of a pattern maker?
"Knowing and understanding what the designer is trying to do is huge because you're trying to interpret a flat drawing. Just because I'm right for this company and this designer doesn't mean I'd be right for another designer. You've got to have that rapport or it won't work."
"You're also always thinking about what is the best way to put this garment together from a construction point of view, and how it will work when the garment goes into production."
What's the most satisfying part?
"For me, the ultimate buzz is when we get the garments made and they're out in the stores and people start ringing and saying 'hey it fits beautifully, it looks beautiful, and I want more.'"
There are no specific entry requirements to become a clothing pattern maker. However, completing a pattern-making course, such as a New Zealand Certificate in Apparel and Fashion Technology Pattern making (Level 4), (formerly National Certificate in Clothing Manufacture) may be an advantage.
Clothing pattern makers gain skills on the job. Employers usually train their pattern makers to use computer-aided design (CAD) software if required.
Entry into a tertiary training programme requires at least NCEA Level 1 in English and maths, and a portfolio of work. Other useful subjects include clothing and textiles, art and technical drawing.
Clothing pattern makers need to be:
- able to work well under pressure
- able to follow instructions
- good at maths
- good communicators
- good organisers.
Useful experience for clothing pattern makers includes:
- work in the clothing industry
- community or night courses in dressmaking
- work with fabrics
- any other sewing work
- drawing and using diagrams.
Clothing pattern makers need to have good hand-eye co-ordination, and need to be comfortable standing for long periods. They must have normal colour vision.
Find out more about training
- 0800 526 1800 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.competenz.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
The textile and apparel manufacturing industry is slowly picking up, which has seen some manufacturers hiring additional staff, including clothing pattern makers.
In addition, some small textile and apparel companies that moved production offshore in recent years are moving back to New Zealand and this is creating additional opportunities for clothing pattern makers.
Focus on niche markets creates work for pattern makers
Local clothing manufacturers are focusing on producing clothes for niche markets, such as high fashion or specialty outdoor wear, which is often made in limited runs and with an emphasis on quality. This is creating more work for pattern makers.
Some clothing designers even report difficulty finding skilled pattern makers, as established contract workers are often booked out months in advance.
Employers prefer to take on graduates
Many employers prefer to take on people with tertiary training in pattern making; however, some employers will train people working in other areas of the industry, such as sewing machinists, if they show initiative and ability. The 2012 NZ Fashion Tech Industry Survey revealed that almost half of companies surveyed use only word-of-mouth and work experience/graduates sourced directly to fill new positions.
Employers range from boutiques to large manufacturers
Employers of clothing pattern makers range from small boutique designers to large apparel manufacturers such as Swazi. Some clothing pattern makers are self-employed, contracting their services out to a range of clients.
- Henderson, K, industry manager, Competenz, Careers New Zealand interview, December 2014.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2003-2012 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2014.
- Origin Creative, 'NZ Fashion Tech Industry Survey 2012', (www.nzfashiontech.ac.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Clothing pattern makers usually start in junior roles and work their way up to senior positions. They can either progress in the same design house, or move on to a larger one. Those with experience in factories may go on to work in design houses.
Clothing pattern makers with skills in designing and making clothing may start their own fashion businesses.
Last updated 21 April 2016