How to become a Clothing Patternmaker

Clothing patternmakers produce master patterns from designs. They work closely with designers, interpreting their sketches to develop a style that can be achieved by the company's equipment and staff, and that fits the image of the company's label.

Personal requirements of a Clothing Patternmaker

  • Enjoy practical and manual activities
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Artistic flair, with an eye for detail
  • Good sense of proportion
  • Aptitude for technical activities
  • Able to work neatly and accurately.

Education & Training for a Clothing Patternmaker

To become a clothing patternmaker, you usually have to complete a VET qualification in clothing production or applied fashion design and technology. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You may be able to study through distance education. You can also become a clothing patternmaker through an apprenticeship or traineeship. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10.

Additional Information

With the increasing use of CAD techniques, computer skills will greatly improve your employment prospects in this field.

Duties & Tasks of a Clothing Patternmaker

Clothing patternmakers:

  • interpret a design sketch
  • choose the correct ‘block’ (a pattern shape that forms the basic characteristics of a garment)
  • make adjustments to the pattern to arrive at a sample pattern, which is then used to decide whether to produce the garment in bulk
  • check the accuracy of the sample pattern
  • work with the sample machinist at various stages throughout the process, such as cutting out the sample garment and determining the amount of fabric used
  • advise on the correct machining technique to use
  • check that the sample garment maintains the look of the original design
  • check the fit of the sample on a mannequin, or on a model employed by the firm
  • modify sample garments to meet cost specifications and manufacturing limitations once it is approved for production, reproduce the sample pattern on a pattern board to make a master pattern create the required range of sizes by ‘grading’ the pattern, usually using a computer-aided design (CAD) system.

Working conditions for a Clothing Patternmaker

In some cases, patternmakers may be employed in additional job roles, such as designer, sample machinist, grader or marker maker.

Employment Opportunities for a Clothing Patternmaker

Clothing patternmakers are employed by clothing manufacturers in small or large businesses. They are usually multi-skilled and are likely to be involved not only in patternmaking, but also in design and cutting for garment production. Patternmakers can establish their own businesses as dressmakers or tailors.

Future growth:


Employment by state:

ACT ACT 1.8%

NSW NSW 40.5%

NT NT 0%

QLD QLD 9.4%

SA SA 3.7%

TAS TAS 0.9%

VIC VIC 33.3%

WA WA 10.3%

Hours worked:



Average unemployment

Gender split:

Male 17.3%

Female 82.7%

Education level:

Age brackets:

15-19 - 3.5%

20-24 - 1.4%

25-34 - 8.2%

35-44 - 14.2%

45-54 - 21.4%

55-59 - 29.4%

60-64 - 11.4%

65 and Over - 10.3%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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