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Not everybody has heard about people creating garment patterns for clothing items. It is true; we hear about the designers or seamstresses – but rarely about garment pattern makers. But, without them, we wouldn’t have all these magnificent pieces of clothing. So, if you want to know what garment pattern making is and why it’s important, keep on reading. 

A designer drawing in her studio

Pattern Making Basics

Pattern making is, essentially, turning the designer’s idea into an actual piece of clothing – a piece that fits a human body. Since we have a rich history of the development of garment manufacturing, it is natural that the craft has changed and evolved. People have used many different techniques for pattern making. Some prefer the old-fashion way for pattern making – on a piece of paper. However, newer generations prefer digital making three-dimensional sketches on computers. This all depends on the individual and the company (or the designer) they are working for. 

It doesn’t matter what method the pattern makers are using as long as they are bringing their designer’s idea into the real world and as long as they are creating a piece of clothing that can fit us. 

Types of Patterns in Clothing Manufacturing

When it comes to garment pattern making, everything starts with a sketch (or sometimes even with just an idea). From there, the maker has several options to choose from. That is, the maker can choose from three different types of pattern making, and those are: 

  • Flat Pattern Drawing – this method includes taking the wearer’s basic pattern and dimensions and turning them into a 3D shape, which is then transferred to the paper. Pattern makers usually use muslin fabric for this. Flat pattern drawing is one of the best pattern-making methods as it helps the maker highlight the so-called movement areas. 
  • Drafting – This method is often used to create the initial design envisioned by the designer. The initial design is created by using all the standard sizing presets. To manufacture a certain garment, the maker would draw individual parts of the garment on a piece of paper and then transfer them to the material. 
  • Fashion Draping – This method involves draping, that is, folding a muslin over a mannequin and creating a 3D shape. Once the desired look is created, the maker transfers it to paper. Of course, this method can be more expensive, but most makers still use it as it gives them an idea of how the garment will look before making any additional decisions. 

How to Start and Where to Start

To become a pattern maker, you don’t need any previous skills and experiences, but you have to have a strong ‘drive’ to learn those skills and gain that experience. Moreover, to become a pattern maker, you must love clothes, fabrics, and fashion. 

Of course, if you have some background in sewing, everything will be much easier for you. But, you shouldn’t worry if you lack sewing skills, as you can learn everything. You can learn all the basics of sewing in one of many comprehensive guides or tutorial videos on YouTube. The same applies to pattern- making too! Believe it or not, some of the best pattern makers are self-taught. They didn’t go to any school; they just practiced different pattern techniques and learned their skills in their bedrooms until they became great. Therefore, you can start playing around with sewing and pattern design as a hobby and then invest more time as your skills improve. 

However, if you think you need help with pattern making, you can enroll in some fashion design college or take a pattern-making course. There are many institutions where you can gain this skill, but three of them stand out: 

  • Central Saint Martins (London) 
  • Parsons School of Design (New York and Paris) 
  • London College of Fashion (London) 

Once again, keep in mind that going to college to learn all about pattern making is not obligatory. If you are on a tight budget, choose to learn this skill on a course or all by yourself. Colleges of this kind can be quite expensive, and you don’t need them if you desire to be a pattern maker. However, if you plan to apply for a job in a high-end fashion company, your diploma will definitely help you stand out. 

Where Do People Make Patterns

Pattern makers who work for a large company usually have their offices in the same building as the company itself. The office they work in is quite extensive, as usually, they are surrounded by designers, a sewing team, materials, and tons of equipment. 

However, you don’t have to work for a company if you don’t want to. You can work from the comfort of your home as a freelance pattern maker. To do that, be sure you have a lot of free space. Yes, you will be working alone, but remember that materials, mannequins, sewing equipment, etc., take up a lot of space. Moreover, you will also need some free space for when designers and clients come. But, don’t worry if you don’t have space for some of the things you are currently not using – there is a solution for that too. You can rent business storage and use it to keep your inventory safe. Unless you have a huge home, you will probably need to use a storage unit to hold both finished designs and fabric samples you will use in the future. 

The Role of Pattern Makers in Fashion

We can say that pattern makers have the most critical role in the fashion industry. Although they are not the creators, that is, although they are not designers and seamstresses, they are the people who connect them. Individual designers or the designers from clothing factories envision a piece of clothing, and pattern makers bring that vision to life. And seamstresses and the rest of the sewing team based on the pattern maker’s sketches. So, as you can see, a piece of clothing would never see the light of the day if it weren’t for the pattern makers. 

Another way to understand pattern makers is to equate them to film directors. When producing a movie, the screenwriters develop ideas, and the actors act. The director’s job is to make sure the actors work together based on the screenwriters’ ideas. Therefore garment pattern making is essential to the design and production of most clothing items we see. 

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