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How to be a creative pattern cutter

Katie Crowle, consultant for recruitment agency CVUK, talks to Drapers about the skills required to become a creative pattern cutter.

Pattern cutting is a very different discipline to design, however most people discover their love for it as an element of a design degree and then find they wish to pursue that aspect more. Central St Martins and the London College of Fashion remain the top places to study fashion design in London, but universities such as Nottingham Trent, the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan also offer excellent technical courses now.

You will definitely need a degree to work in a pattern cutting role, it is a vital foundation for knowledge. People who wish to go into this type of job would need to have a very methodical, well organised and detail-focused work ethic. The working environment is noisy and often manic, so is not for the faint hearted, especially when patterns are returned to be redone – prospective pattern cutters need to be able to respond positively to criticism.

The role of a creative pattern cutter (as opposed to a production pattern cutter) is to be able to make the designer’s vision come alive, so good interactive people skills are also key, as well as the creativity to realise the designs in the best way. Most pattern cutting work today requires knowledge of a CAD programme such as Gerber, and this is included in some degree programmes. Otherwise you may need to take a week’s course to learn the programme.

Salaries for this position range from £17,000 to £45,000.

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