What Makes a Great Pattern Maker: 5 Things You Need to Know

What Makes a Great Pattern Maker: 5 Things You Need to Know

You’ve definitely heard a lot about photographers and sewists when it comes to creating a fashion line, but what about a pattern maker? In reality, pattern makers are incredibly important to the process of drafting up a clothing collection. With their technical skills and fashion industry knowledge, they make sure that the idea in your head perfectly reflects the end result.

While you get to focus on the more creative aspects of your clothing line, your pattern creator pays attention to those make-or-break details like embellishment placement, how long sleeves should be, and the final production-ready outline. Basically, they draft the blueprints that set the stage for your entire collection. That’s a lot of responsibility! This is why it’s so important to hire an extremely skilled pattern maker. But how do you know what makes a great pattern maker? Use these five points of reference!

1. Specialized Technical Skills

Pattern maker planning production

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to sewing and pattern making. Each collection will have unique needs for how to bring it to life, which is where having someone proficient with multiple different methods of pattern making comes in handy. This way the production process is done more efficiently at less cost to you– not to mention being a much higher quality finish. 

Some common pattern making techniques:

  1. Flat Pattern Making: Take precise measurements from a figure or dress form, then turn them into a pattern on paper. This allows you to create multiple designs from just one pattern. 
  2. Drafting: Just use measurements from a fit model or standard sizing presets and complete the first drafts on paper.
  3. Draping: Use a live model or mannequin, then drape the materials around the body, pinning where you want. This allows you to see the design in “real life” so to speak on an actual body, and then you can make any adjustments. 

According to Sewport, “Once you have the initial pattern for your garments, the next step is to create alternative sizing. This process is called pattern grading and involves making other sizes using your basic blueprint. Some manufacturers have standard guidelines for grading, and this is where you see common retailer measurements. For example, size 8 and beyond, sizes S, M, L, and so on.”

The grading process requires math skills since it’s all about adjusting measurements so each size resembles the perfect fit. Pattern makers need to have a good understanding of these calculations, as well as computer software design packages to help with accuracy. Specialized technical skills are a must! 

2. Attention to Detail 

pattern makers working on samples

One slight wrong measurement and the whole collection is completely off! Your sewing pattern creator must focus on those little aspects that require huge attention to detail, such as creating secure embellishment stitching so it doesn’t come off easily or adjusting the length of the sleeves so it’s a more comfortable fit. You need someone with an experienced set of eyes to call out the issues that could end up turning customers away. 

Remember: quality is everything, especially if you’re in the fashion game for the long haul. Building a solid brand reputation is how you keep customers coming back for more, and you don’t want to lose their trust!

Attention to detail could also look like catching minor design flaws, double-checking any communication confusion, or putting in extra effort to confirm correct measurement numbers. You want your original patterns to have zero errors, otherwise, you could face a production nightmare and lose out on funds. As a designer, you should be able to trust your pattern maker enough to be highly detail-oriented and have plenty of precision and practice in technical drawing.

3. Knowledge of the Fashion Industry

Designer reviewing her collection with pattern maker

A garment pattern is more than just a blueprint. It needs to take into account the different types and fabrics and materials being used. For instance, delicate fabrics require a completely separate range of methods, like smaller needles, thinner thread, and rolled hems. All fabrics have different properties that play into the overall result of the garment, which means your professional pattern maker needs to have substantial knowledge of the fashion industry.

But let’s take it a step further. When your pattern maker knows a lot about various materials and how they fit into your collection, they could also help you save money. Some materials are more costly than others, so if you’re working on a tighter budget, you need someone to guide you around the best bang for your buck when it comes to fabrics. Some materials are also harder to work with and take longer to sew together– let alone have a wide range of shrinkage rates in the wash.

Your clothing pattern design should take all of the above into consideration to produce a high-end collection that sets you up for fashion success.

4. Creativity

Patternmaker working on Fashion Product Development

The greatest pattern makers can skillfully combine technical knowledge as well as creativity. This is no easy task! They should be able to interpret your design concept and translate it to paper. Of course, there is some work on your end, too, to aid them in this complicated process. 

You’ll want to be as detailed as possible when relaying your thoughts and ideas about your collection. And maybe even have some basic drawings ready ahead of time. You also might want to include them in your creative process, so they have a better idea of your overall vision.

At the end of the day, your pattern maker needs to be skilled at finding creative solutions to problems. There are bound to be lots of bumps in the road as you flesh out your designs, from material struggles to overall project expectations. As these problems come up, expert pattern makers will be able to use their problem-solving skills to come up with a resolution, without compromising too much of your ideal outcome.

5. Good Communicator

Designer explaining her ideas to patternmaker

The pattern making manufacturing process requires loads of clear communication. When you think about it, the pattern creator is the sole link between the designer and final product. This makes it essential for both parties to be open about expectations and stay up to date on the latest project developments, so you can come up with feasible solutions. 

So as you’re searching for an expert pattern maker, look for someone with strong relational skills and a propensity for teamwork– especially since any miscommunications will be directly reflected in the collection. 

Think of your work together as the ultimate collaboration: you’re working together towards one goal– an epic clothing line. And the more you help each other succeed, the better the outcome will be. It’s probably a good idea to be upfront as possible from the very start, relaying any questions or shortcomings you have about the production process. This way your pattern maker can meet you where you’re at and vice versa. When in doubt, don’t assume! Always clarify. 

Choose a Great Pattern Maker For Your Next Line

Designer and pattern maker hugging

A master pattern maker can turn your collection from just okay to absolutely stunning. And if you’re a fashion designer looking to make your mark on the industry, you need a pattern maker who can meet you where you’re at and create a spectacular blueprint for your collection.

All of your expert pattern makers here at TEG specialize in one thing: bringing your high-quality clothing line to life. Their skills are unmatched in areas like creativity, attention to detail, communication, technical aspects, and fashion industry knowledge. We’re here to make the  complex fashion process easy for you with plenty of flexibility and professional insight.

For all inquiries and questions, please call or fill out the below form, and we will respond within 1-2 business days. Thank you!

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