Four Year Degree Course.
(067). When I began my career as a pattern cutter forty years ago, I did so following four years of a fashion degree course, at the local art college. But was a fashion qualification really necessary ?
At my first job as a pattern cutter, working on the adjoining pattern table to me was a young girl straight out of school. She was doing exactly the same job as me, but was in fact senior, as she was there before me. She was instructing me what to do. My four years at college seemed to be a complete waste of time.
The problem with the fashion course was that it didnt really suit me. I wasnt learning the practical things like pattern making that I really wanted to learn. While pattern cutting should have been an integral part of the course, I barely touched on the subject.
When I started my first pattern cutting job, I knew next to nothing about cutting patterns. At college I had even asked to drop subjects such as macrame, knitting and millinery, so that I could do more pattern making. But to no avail – The system was totally inflexible.
Flexible part Time Courses.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have swapped the full time course for a flexible part time course, invested in a good mannequin and set about learning pattern cutting properly, while using the tutors valuable knowledge and experience.
The thing is that with pattern cutting, you need to be making patterns day in and day out to really understand what you are doing. But you also need access to specialist information and knowledge to accelerate your learning.
Today with so much information available on the internet, and especially through platforms such as Youtube, we have access to all sorts of knowledge that wasnt available in my day as a student.
So, we can do a lot to teach ourselves how to cut patterns. But there are all sorts of questions that we cannot find answers to when we are working alone. We may eventually figure them out, but it may take years before the penny drops. This is where one to one tuition is vital in order to accelerate the learning process.
Most of what I learnt about pattern cutting, I taught myself gradually, bit by bit as a freelance pattern cutter. Being a freelancer you need to know everything about everything – Every aspect of menswear, ladieswear and childrenswear. I had to be an expert in tailoring, sportswear, swimwear, lingerie, denim, leather.
Sometimes this meant taking garments apart to see how they were made. Without experts on hand, I had to see how the best in the various fields did it, then worked backwards to figure out why.
Although worthwhile, this is extremely time consuming. What I needed was experienced professionals to learn from.
Once you understand the fundamentals of pattern cutting, each new field is that much easier to comprehend. There is no point just copying something without understanding it.
One To One Tuition.
Ideally, if I were to go back in time, I would have chosen one to one tuition, mixed with self tuition. Which I could have afforded with a part time job.
Today, Governments seem desperate to get everyone into University, even though there are few opportunities available to them when they leave. So, when thousands of students leave to find work in the fashion industry with no skills and no experience, they cant find work.
Pattern Cutting Books.
While pattern cutting books can prove useful, it would be wrong to rely on them too much. By all means use them for reference, but learning theory will not teach you how to cut good patterns. Only practise will do that.
I remember trying to use books to create patterns or blocks. I couldnt understand why the resulting patterns were so wrong, when I had followed the instructions to the letter. But it was this very inflexibilty that was the problem. It is far better to understand what you are doing than to follow a formula without understanding.
Finding Work As A Pattern Cutter.
Employers are not at all interested in your qualifications. All they care about is that you can be of use to them. They know that anyone straight from fashion college will have virtually no experience of cutting patterns, whatever their qualifications.
To get a job as a pattern cutter without qualifications, all you need to do is to show that you can do the job competently and that you are enthusiastic and reliable.
If you can do the job, then you just need to get your foot in the door.
Our One To One Pattern Cutting Course.
Our one-to-one pattern cutting courses are held in our London studios in either Greenwich, or Walthamstow. As the classes are specifically designed for each student, the content can vary from class to class.
Fashion Startup Workshop.
If you are interested in working as a freelance pattern cutter, I would highly recommend our Fashion Startup Workshop. Although primarily for those interested in starting their own clothing brand, this workshop is also ideal for potential freelancers.