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Do I Need To Hire A  Pattern Cutter ?

Once you have decided to set up a clothing business, in order to get a product to market, your first step should be to decide whether you need to be hiring a Pattern Cutter. And whether you need to hire a full-time Pattern Cutter or a Freelance Pattern Cutter.

Do you want someone to provide a comprehensive service, including pattern cutting, grading, sampling, tech packs, and production ? Or do you want to go it alone and find your own pattern cutters, graders, sample machinists and factories ?

Comprehensive Service ? Or Go It Alone ?

Should you choose a comprehensive service, or go it alone ? These days there are a lot of companies that offer a comprehensive service to fashion startups. Including The London Pattern Cutter. It is important to be extremely selective in choosing the right service for you.

As mentioned elsewhere on this page, the pattern cutter is the key to success, and crucial if you are choosing to do it yourself. But really, in most cases, I dont think there is any advantage in doing it yourself. Neither would I suggest going directly to a factory. In fact, that would be the worst choice of all.

The Pattern Cutter`s Role

Whichever approach you choose when hiring a pattern cutter, the pattern cutter`s role is  the vital key to success, but if you choose to go it alone, then you absolutely must use an experienced FREELANCE pattern cutter.

You may have considered hiring a Designer, but if you find a good Pattern Cutter, it may not be necessary to hire a Designer at all.  In this case you will be the Designer, with a little guidance  from the Pattern Cutter. An experienced Freelancer knows exactly how to achieve good results, efficiently and economically.

PHONE – 07905-965-305 ( BILL )


It is essential to find a good Pattern Cutter, very experienced specifically in the genre you aim to produce. If you are making styles for several different  genres, then you may need different Pattern Cutters for each . A very experienced freelancer should be able to cover a wide range of genres though.

Dont skimp on the pattern cutting, except to make sure that you are paying a reasonable rate commensurate to the pattern cutter`s experience and skills.  Choose a Pattern Cutter who has had a lot of experience working with start-ups and so can also act as a mentor. This way, although you may be paying a little more for your patterns, you should be receiving invaluable advice.

“No one ever listened themselves out of a job”


While large international fashion companies can afford three or four attempts before achieving a final pattern and sample, most smaller companies with limited budgets do not have this luxury. The Pattern  needs to be right first time. Or second time at worst.  The Pattern Cutter  must be able to lead you to provide whatever is required to achieve this. Be prepared to supply some basic measurements, and appropriate existing garments where possible.

Saving Money

Your pattern cutter should be able to save you money throughout the entire process of sampling and manufacturing. Ideally they should be able to liaise between you and the factory. In my opinion it would be a mistake to opt for a service that supplied patterns along with production. A pattern cutter needs to be independent from the factory in order to ensure that the factory is held to account if the production is below standard.

Freelance Pattern Cutters will normally charge either an hourly rate, or a per piece rate. Personally, while I would far prefer an hourly rate, the Client normally  prefers to pay by the piece – and really that is what you should aim for as you will know what your costs are in advance. If you pay an hourly rate you could get a nasty shock and this way can lead to disputes.

PHONE – 07905-965-305


How Much Is A Freelance Pattern Cutter ?

Most Freelance Pattern Cutters will  charge  between £20 and £60 per hour, with better Pattern Cutters charging  from £30 per hour. As with any other service , you get what you pay for, but be aware that there are Pattern Cutters charging a high rate who do not really warrant that rate, even if their hype may suggest otherwise.

It is counter productive  to use an inexperienced but  cheap pattern cutter.  But you are throwing your money away if you employ an expensive pattern cutter who does not warrant a high hourly rate. I am often asked by pattern cutters how much I would charge for a particular pattern so that they can charge a similar amount. But each pattern cutter must decide their own rate.

An experienced pattern cutter should work much faster than an inexperienced one and produce better quality work. If you have to keep making repeat samples because the patterns are poor, then you are throwing money away.

A good fitting garment will sell far better than a poor fitting one and should also help save on returns.  Depending on the job a good freelance pattern cutter should get it right first time, or maybe second time, with maybe a few alterations required. A bad pattern cutter may never get it right.

What To Look For In A Pattern Cutter ?

One thing to be aware of is that Pattern Cutters tend to specialise in certain narrow  areas. Most will do either Menswear or Ladieswear. Some Ladieswear Pattern Cutters will do Evening wear. Others will do Tailoring, or Outerwear. Still others will do Sportswear or Lingerie, or Leather wear.

Menswear is  divided into fewer specialist areas, although there is a sharp divide between Tailoring and casualwear.  Few Pattern Cutters will do all types of patterns equally well, although some long term Freelancers like myself will have gained experience in multiple areas over the years.

While I will do pretty much any type of pattern, my own areas of particular skills are  Mens and Ladies Tailoring, Sportswear, Leatherwear and any Menswear really. But normally you must make sure that the Freelance Pattern Cutter you employ is a specialist in the area of pattern cutting that you require – A dress Pattern Cutter normally cannot make a professional jacket pattern. A Ladieswear Pattern Cutter normally cannot make a professional Menswear pattern.

This is really important to remember. A well established and experienced Pattern Cutter however, should know exactly what they can and cant do well. And if they are busy they will not be in need of the work anyway, so will be less inclined to take on work that they are not able to do with confidence.

But a  good Pattern Cutter`s job should extends well beyond the cutting of the pattern when you are setting up a clothing business. An experienced Freelance Pattern Cutter should be your main source of advice and your link to the manufacturer.

A good Freelancer should be able to advise on the correct protocol to follow as well as production methods and advising on  good U.K. factories. This part of the job is vitally important as, if the correct procedures are not followed the results can be disastrous. Your business can easily haemorrhage money if you dont follow logical and practical procedures.

A good Freelance Pattern Cutter should let you know exactly what is required in order to produce an accurate pattern. This normally requires you supplying one page with a sketch along with clear, concise written instructions,  a fabric swatch, an existing garment if possible and a “look book” to give the Pattern Cutter an idea of the type of look you want to achieve.

I would suggest not complicating things by giving lots of disjointed information spread over several sheets of paper or “just one more thing” emails. Again, if information is not clear and concise this can lead to costly errors.

Should I Employ A Cheap Pattern Cutter ?

How do you find a cheap Pattern Cutter and is it worth while ? A Pattern Cutter can cost between £15 and £60 per hour. Most people would not be looking for the cheapest Pattern Cutter, or the most expensive one. But is it worthwhile employing a cheap Pattern Cutter and how would you find one ?

We have a range of pattern cutters with different skills and experience levels. While none of our pattern cutters are cheap, it is not always necessary to use the most expensive ones. Normally the more complex or specialised the pattern is, the more expensive the pattern cutter will be.

We could use cheaper Pattern Cutters, but it  is not worth using someone who does not have the skills or experience that is need to do the work properly. It is also important to understand that experienced pattern cutters tend to be much faster than inexperienced ones.

Some clients come to me with patterns made by someone who is obviously neither experienced or skilled. The patterns are awful and I would say worthless. Why waste perfectly good fabric with a bad pattern ?

But it is not just the pattern construction that is important. If the pattern has  insufficient, incorrect or misleading information on it then your whole production could be at risk.

Computer Patterns Or Manual Patterns ?

As a Creative Manual Pattern Cutter, I naturally tend to have a bias toward manual pattern making,   While  a Computer  can be  a very useful tool, it cannot replicate a “hands on” approach. Computers are good for storing,  printing and grading patterns, and sending pattern files round the world.

In the hands of an experienced Pattern Cutter they can work very well and  are used to good effect within the Clothing Industry, but most patterns will require some element of manual pattern cutting. If your styles are quite “generic” , then  a computer pattern may work well for you, as there  is little need for interpretation or pattern manipulation.

There is a strong temptation to just use a generic pattern that is already in the system and that can be printed off with minimum effort and maximum profit.

If you want something  more specific or complicated, then there is no replacement for a manually cut pattern  using traditional methods and tools. I always create my patterns from scratch according to the specific instructions I am given.  I will produce an initial pattern by hand that is normally modelled on the mannequin and that can later be digitised  and graded once the style is  passed for production.

Factory Made Patterns

It can be tempting to have the factory  make your patterns as it can make things easier keeping everything in one place.  Sometimes the factory may be cheaper than a professional freelance Pattern Cutter.  Often they  are  more expensive. But they are rarely of a high quality.

Factory Pattern Cutters are generally not real full time Pattern Makers at all. They are often skilled fabric cutters who do some pattern work when required by the factory. There are some exceptions to this, but in those cases the factory will generally charge very high prices for the pattern work.

Another thing to remember is that if the factory are providing the patterns then the patterns will normally belong to the factory rather than to you. If you decide to move to a different factory, you will then have to remake the patterns as near as you can to the originals , which may be very difficult if you are working with the wrong Pattern Cutter.

Payment Terms

One of the problems facing both the seller and the buyer for any type of service is what are the terms of payment. For any Freelance service the freelancer would normally expect full payment on completion of the job. Depending on the size of the job an initial deposit along with staged payments may be required.

Obviously there can be risks from both sides so the buyer has to be reasonably confident of the Pattern Cutter`s ability to do the job correctly. But the Pattern Cutter also needs to be confident of payment.

Once the freelancer and the Client have established a working relationship this may be relaxed a little. Personally, I will always ask for a  25% – 50%  deposit with staged payments and a final payment on completion for a new Client.  But the Client would be free to inspect the work before handing over the final payment.

Fashion Startup Workshops

We run a number of different workshops, but our most popular workshop is our bespoke 1-1  fashion startup workshop. Please feel free to ring for details and  prices –

PHONE – 07905-965-305 ( BILL )



Services  By The London Pattern Cutter :

  • Pattern cutting
  • Pattern grading
  • Sampling
  • Fashion design
  • Quality control
  • Fashion start-up workshops
  • Video workshops
  • Mentoring
  • Spec sheets
  • Small production runs

Helping fashion startups since 1984