Pattern cutters work from fashion designers' plans to make the templates used for making garments. Pattern graders take the patterns made by pattern cutters and produce scaled up and scaled down versions, to produce the same garment in different sizes.
You might specialise in either cutting or grading, or both.
As a pattern cutter you could be:
working from drawings of clothing designs
referring to a library of patterns to find a pattern which you can adapt
cutting cardboard pattern pieces for each part of the garment
using a flat cardboard 'block' which can be altered
draping and fitting fabric to tailors' dummies and cutting a pattern from the fitted pieces
using specialist computer programmes to make pattern pieces and templates
alternatively draw your patterns by hand (some cutters prefer this)
attending fittings of the prototype garment and consulting with designers and garment technologists about final changes needed.
As a pattern grader you could be:
taking patterns made by a pattern cutter and producing scaled up or scaled down versions, enabling the garment to be reproduced in different sizes
tracing an outline of the pattern on a digitising table so that the computer can use the data to adjust the size and proportions
using a scanner to trace the pattern outline, which the computer can scale to size
sending copies of the different pattern grades to the manufacturer for them to produce finished garments in the sizes they require.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Pattern cutters and graders start around £25,000 a year. Experienced cutters and graders can earn in the region of £30,000. Multi-skilled cutters and graders working for companies making specialist or luxury clothing may earn up to £40,000.
You would normally work 37-40 hours a week.
You would work in a factory or studio.
If working in a factory, it might be noisy.
You would be bending and stretching throughout the day.