Updated: Feb 17, 2020
Pattern cutting in the fashion industry is the process of taking a design and making it into fabric.
But before it is made into fabric, it is made into paper (2D). For example what you are wearing right now was once a design that was most likely made into paper and then into fabric (3D).
The role of a pattern cutter is to interpret your design, put it onto paper/card, or in digital form so it can then be made into fabric of your choice.
What is the purpose of pattern cutting?
Pattern cutting allows you to repeat the design/style that your making over and over again (infinitely). The pattern is a template which is used when cutting out fabric.
The reason why the majority of the fashion designers use patterns, is because once a pattern has been made and the fit is perfect for the brand, it can be used for eternity.
Patterns are like the foundations of a house, once you have set the foundations you can then build around it and with the aesthetics in mind.
With regards to patterns, once you have the basic things in place, like size snd fit, you can adapt the pattern and change the styles over and over again, maintaining your brands sizing ethos.
Where do pattern cutters learn to become pattern cutters?
Most good pattern cutters that we have encountered have studied in college or university on a fashion design course, or on a dedicated pattern cutting course which usually lasts 2-4 years. However, some pattern cutters may be self taught or have done short courses.
How long does it take to be a pattern cutter?
As expressed previously, you can do a pattern cutting course over (2-4years) at which time you should have a good understanding of pattern cutting. However, we have found that at least 5 years of experience is when a pattern cutter has solid understanding and the ability to interpret a range of designs. (It is also important to note that some people pick up things quicker than others.) But just like most disciplines in life you never stop learning.
What makes a good pattern cutter?
In our opinion a good pattern cutter is someone who can interpret your design in a 3D form. For us, a good pattern cutter has a sensitive hand who makes sure that style lines and curves are made with intention and purpose.
We believe that pattern cutting is an art form which has a technical function. We have met a lot of pattern cutters over the years who have technical knowhow, but not necessarily the eye to create a great aesthetic or to develop delicate details.
The importance of a good pattern cutter should not be underestimated. If you are looking to create a fashion brand a good pattern cutter along with a good sample machinist is essential to its success.
How a pattern cutter should be thought of?
A pattern cutter is a technician, a builder. They understand the body, form and shape. Think of a pattern cutter like an architect. An architect considers the buildings form, positioning, materials along with many other aspects. A pattern cutter too, has to consider what fabrics will work for the garment shape/structure required. A pattern cutter has to think a lot when drafting a pattern. They work to millimetre measurements when developing certain style lines. 0.5mm can be the difference that can change a garments aesthetics.
How much does a pattern cutter cost?
Prices for pattern cutters can vary, you can see our blog post "How Much Does A Sample Cost?" to get a better idea of how the sampling process generally works.
You can find pattern cutters who work by the hour or per style.
We think it's important that to make sure you research your pattern cutter and find out as much as you can before you commence working for them. Price should be secondary to good quality work. A pattern cutter may also work within a fashion studio and so the studio manager will be responsible for the pattern cutter delivering a great quality garment.
Trying to not sound too dramatic, but any good pattern cutter/fashion studio knows their worth and is unlikely to undervalue their skills to price compete.
We have had countless clients who have worked with pattern cutters who did not do a great job, there may have been many factors to this; maybe they did not have the necessary skills or maybe they did not care. Whatever the reason was, the results always seemed the same. They lower the price point, the lower the quality.
Where can I find a pattern cutter?
Email us here at: Cfspatterncutters@gmail.com and we can give you a quote for making your patterns.
Wherever or whoever you decide to work with should be based on the quality they can provide. Please let us know your experience and comment below.