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Pattern production

Career paths in the area of pattern production include patternmaker, pattern grader, and marker maker. Find out more in this article.
This is an image of pieces of swatches being compared to a color card.

Career paths in the area of pattern production include patternmaker, pattern grader, and marker maker.

Marker makers and pattern graders share common characteristics: a superior level of accuracy, an understanding of how textiles perform, and an ability to adjust to increasing technological advances in pattern production. Pattern development, fit, and production require sharp focus and strong attention to detail.

a female patternmaker busy draping material over a mannequin and pinning it in place.

If a single pattern piece is one-quarter of an inch too large, the garment will not likely flow through the production process. If by chance it does, the consumer will not purchase a product that does not fit correctly or look attractive.
If a single pattern piece is one-quarter of an inch too large, then the apparel or home furnishing product will likely not flow through the production process. If by chance it does, the consumer will likely purchase a product that does not fit correctly or look attractive. If details and accuracy are in your realm of expertise, pattern production offers career options for you.

Pattern grader

Working from the master pattern, the pattern that evolves after adjusting and perfecting the sample pattern, pattern graders develop the full pattern range of sizes offered by the manufacturer. For example, the master pattern may be graded in misses’ dress sizes 12 to 20 or sizes 6 to 14, depending on the garment style, the company, and its target market. By enlarging or reducing the pattern within a figure-type category, all of the pattern pieces of a particular design are developed for each size.
A pattern that has been graded into a size range using CAD software.
Pattern grading is technical and precise work. It is often work that must be done at a fast pace under the pressure of production deadlines. Although most large manufacturing companies use computers to do grading work quickly, many smaller companies cannot initially afford this technology and/or prefer the hands-on skills of a grader.

Qualifications

Pattern graders should have the following background in terms of education, experience, and personal characteristics:

Education

A bachelor’s degree in fashion design, apparel production, or a related field is a minimum requirement.

Experience

Effective skills in patternmaking, drafting, and product construction are necessary. Experience in pattern draping is a plus. An understanding of pattern grading technology and related work experience are needed.

Personal characteristics

Strong attention to detail, the ability to work independently and under tight deadlines, and quantitative skills are job requirements for successful pattern graders.

Marker maker

After the pattern is graded, it is time to develop a marker. A marker is the layout of pattern pieces on the fabrication from which the pieces will be cut.
A marker is the layout of pattern pieces on the fabrication from which the pieces will be cut.

There are two main purposes of a marker:

  1. a good marker minimizes fabric waste, and
  2. it generates an accurate end design.

Fabric prints and patterns, textures and naps, and sheens and matte finishes must be taken into consideration when creating a marker. Think, for example, about a corduroy jacket. If the fabric in the back of the jacket is cut in a different direction from the front, the front and the back will appear to be two different colors. Marker makers manipulate and trace the pattern pieces, by hand or by computer, into the tightest possible layout, while keeping the integrity of the design in mind. In some cases, a marker is generated in hard copy, or print; in other cases, it is computer-generated and stored in the computer.

Qualifications

The qualifications required for a marker maker are as follows:

Education

A bachelor’s degree in fashion design, apparel production, or a related field is a minimum requirement.

Experience

Effective skills in patternmaking, drafting, and product construction are necessary. Experience with marker-making technology is often required.

Personal characteristics

Like pattern graders, marker makers must have strong attention to detail, the ability to work independently and under tight deadlines, and strong quantitative skills. Additionally, marker makers must have the ability to “see” the product in its final form when determining pattern piece layout.

Once the marker is developed, it is ready to be placed on the fabric as preparation for cutting the pattern pieces. In the next step, we learn about the role of the spreader and cutter.

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Careers in Fashion: Trend Forecasting and Textile Design

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