Advice from Lucinda Harvey, Consultant for wholesale, design and technology, CVUK
The best starting point for a pattern cutter is usually a vocational course in either fashion design or technical/creative pattern cutting at degree or HND level. However, it is possible to go in via the trainee route and some companies will take on a keen school or college leaver willing to start at the bottom. This is common in specialised areas such as tailoring; Savile Row is renowned for this.
To become an established pattern cutter at senior level it is important to have worked your way up through the ranks, starting as a junior and progressing as your skills, experience and knowledge develop.
Patterns for a high street retailer may be drafted first by hand, but will get digitised so the data can be sent to Asia, Eastern Europe or North Africa to be put into production, so competence on automated pattern-making systems is an advantage.
Employers look for someone who is highly skilled, creative and has an eye for detail, who also appreciates production deadlines. Excellent communication skills are a must as there is regular liaising with designers, production and technologists. Within design-led companies the pattern cutter is seen as an expertly skilled individual.
The salary for a senior pattern cutter ranges from £24,000 to £45,000.