Pattern Making

Patterns are the blue prints to your designs and errors can be devastating to the future of any company and it only takes this kind of error in a single season to end an entire business. There are many pitfalls that are common at this stage in the process so there are a few points it is important to understand regardless of the company you work with, and especially if you work with multiple companies.

Pattern making is one area that it does not pay to buy cheap. Pay for quality, ensure the company doing the pattern works tries to verify accuracy before grading and marker making. It is common for pattern service companies to just spit out patterns that are given to them without actually looking at them to see if they are functional. This is a service that you have to pay for, but it is much cheaper to pay to catch a mistake at this stage than to try and fix it in production, or worse, loose an entire run because an error wasn’t caught.

It is important to do your homework and ask a few basic questions.

Does your pattern maker give you copies of your patterns
after work is completed?

​- Many companies, especially manufacturers who do pattern and sample making in house have been known to hold patterns hostage as a tactic to keep you working with them. Patterns are expensive so if you have to pay someone to redo that work, most people avoid moving. The fact is, you pay for that service and as such, those are your patterns. If a company refuses to give you a copy, you should reconsider working with them as it is unethical to operate in this manner. Patterns can be used season after season, so it is important to always keep a copy of each design.

What experience does your patternmaker have?

– It is common in the fashion industry for people to claim to be skilled in pattern making upon graduation of a fashion program. It is also common for a skilled pattern maker to not have a college degree. Neither one of these points should be used as a gauge for pattern making. Ask to see sample, ask them to explain the process of pattern making and which methods they use. Patterns are different for a variety of reasons, and a seasoned pattern maker should be able to illustrate these points on patterns they have previously completed.

Another area to consider is how the patterns are drafted. Does the pattern maker perform only hand drafted patterns, do they use CAD software, or a combination? How do they grade patterns? Having the ability to do both is considered to be preferred as it allows for speed when worked in CAD software, but this is not to say that those who only hand draft are not excellent options as well. Ultimately, skill comes down to experience and ability and the only way to verify is to see their work.