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Forty Years A Freelance Pattern Cutter

I have worked for forty years as a Pattern Cutter and thirty years as a Freelance Pattern Cutter in London. I love the freedom and flexibility that being a freelancer gives me. But of course there is a downside to the job. While you can earn very good money  freelancing, there is not a guaranteed income.

You may work solidly for several months, then have a week with no work at all. If you had planned it then you could use the time constructively, for either work or leisure. But now you are concerned that you may never work again, so you use the time to worry or to find your next job. In the meantime, all the benefits you had from the long period of work are frittered away.


Freelance Vs Employed

Working as a freelance pattern cutter is COMPLETELY different to working for an employer. you need to learn very quickly how to go about it. You dont have the luxury of a large library of existing patterns that are similar in fit and style to the one you are about to do. Your client probably expects the pattern to be right first time round, although may accept some small alterations.

Your work will be extremely varied unless you specialise. But then, should you specialise, or try to do everything ? If you do everything you will have to go through a learning process for each new type of job. This will really slow you down and it will mean that you will make costly mistakes.

“Dont wish it were easier. Wish you were better”

John Rohn

How Do You Charge

How do you charge as a freelancer ? How much ? Do you charge for the job are by the hour ? Do you insist on all money upfront ? Do you ask for a deposit ? Do you ask for payment on delivery ? Do you give credit ?  Do you add a surcharge for late payment ?  Ultimately you need to get paid. And you want to get paid as soon as possible. But the client also needs assurance that the work is done properly. They may not be too keen on giving you money for a job that may be poorly done.

Working In-House

Many clients would prefer that you work from their studio rather than your own. They want to make sure that the job is done correctly. Sometimes this may work in your favour, but it may not suit you. You would need to decide whether to charge the same way as you would if you worked from your own studio.

How Do I Ensure I Get It Right ?

You will encounter all sorts of clients. Many of them will be completely new to the fashion business. They may not even be able to sketch. You are not familiar with their sketch handwriting, so do you take their sketches as literal interpretations, or as artistic license ?

Neither you nor the client can afford too many mistakes, so you want to get it right first time if possible. Normally, the worst case should be second time round. But if its not right, do you charge for alterations, or is it part of the initial price ?

Can I Trust The Client To Pay ?

I know I am repeating myself here, but you will deal with all sorts of clients. For some reason the startup  fashion business can attract some very unusual people with a strange sense of logic and fairness. I used to regularly encounter these people, but over the years I have managed to spot them and weed them out.

Most clients will probably pay without any fuss. But some will be trouble. Sometimes they will be your best friend at first, then suddenly become your sworn enemy. You may have every confidence that you can trust them, so you give them all your hard worked patterns without payment or deposit – just a promise to pay.

Sometimes they will then just disappear. Or they may find some obscure reason to not pay you. They have the patterns, so they hold all the cards. Often clients will insist on receiving and testing the patterns before paying you. This is because they may decide NOT to pay you. Again, they will then have all the patterns – and the power to decide whether you get paid or not.

How Do I Get Freelance Work ?

Ideally yo will start your freelance pattern cutting career with several reliable sources of regular work. Maybe your ex employer is giving you regular work, or you have managed to find a good source of work before giving up your full time job. Sometimes however, we are unexpectedly made redundant with no work at all. You may be the best pattern cutter in the country, but if nobody knows you are there you will not get any work.

The Workshop

The Freelance Pattern Cutter Workshop will aim to give you a head start in your business. I will try to answer all the questions I have posed here and more. I cannot guarantee that you will get work, or that you will be successful, but you will certainly be in a far better position after this workshop than before. I will give you the benefit of my forty years experience as a pattern cutter and some useful tips about how to increase your earnings.

Freelance Pattern Cutter in Kent.

The London Pattern Cutter originated in London, moved to Kent and then moved back to Greenwich, South East London . 80% of our business is still  London based, but we get 10%  from Kent as we are just a short drive from Kent and the M2.

PHONE – 07905-965-305



Helping fashion startups since 1984