Studying at Sewafrica is only a starting point. Graduation can unzip opportunities into the world of fashion.





Clothing pattern makers interpret clothing designs and measurements, draw outlines of clothing pieces and create paper patterns from them.

Alternative Titles

  • Apparel Pattern Maker
  • Pattern Maker (Clothing)

Tasks & Duties

Clothing pattern makers may do some or all of the following:

  • study and interpret drawings, written instructions or samples of clothing designs
  • draw the outline of the clothing pieces by adapting an existing pattern, copying an existing garment or by drafting a new one
  • use a computer to produce a pattern
  • specify sewing instructions
  • cut out the pattern by hand or print out a co py using a computer
  • make sample garments and be involved in fitting to test the patterns
  • make the necessary changes adapt patterns for different sizes (grading).

Skills & Knowledge

Clothing pattern makers need to have:

  • excellent knowledge of pattern-making, and sewing codes and symbols
  • knowledge of different sewing equipment and methods
  • knowledge of different fabrics
  • drawing skills and the ability to interpret drawings
  • maths skills, particularly making calculations and measuring
  • computer skills, including the ability to use computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • good communication skills
  • good organisational ability.

Personal Qualities

Clothing pattern makers need to be quick, neat, have organisational skills with an eye for detail. They should also be patient, practical and able to work well under pressure and follow instructions.

Physical Requirements

Clothing pattern makers need to have good hand-eye co-ordination, and need to be comfortable standing for long periods. They must have normal colour vision. Good hand-eye co-ordination is a necessity for pattern makers

Entry Requirements

To become a clothing pattern maker you can train on the job. However, completing a pattern making course, certificate, diploma or degree in clothing may be an advantage. The SEWAFRICA course provides the foundation skills for pattern making skills in the first year by providing practical application tuition in reading commercial patterns, pattern making, design and garment construction using domestic machines. Grade 11 allows immediate access, if a student has less than a grade 11 a student may be accepted on review of age and previous experience and school subjects and results.


Secondary Education

Three years of secondary school is needed to enter further training. Maths is essential, while English, technical drawing, clothing and textiles and computer studies are also useful subjects to take.

Training on the Job

Skills are gained on the job and trainees can work towards a National Certificate in Clothing Manufacture. Employers will usually train their pattern makers to use CAD software if required.

Useful Experience

Work in the clothing industry, or courses in pattern making or clothing design are useful experience for people wishing to become clothing pattern makers.

Working Conditions

Clothing pattern makers work in factories and workrooms. Some factories can be noisy.


Equipment clothing pattern makers may use includes:

  • precise drawing and measuring instruments
  • models, diagrams and drawings of designs
  • computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • material samples
  • knives and shears.


Clothing pattern makers usually work regular office hours.

Contact with People

Clothing pattern makers work independently and in a small team. They follow the instructions of a designer and may supervise others or work under the direction of a supervisor. They also work closely with sample machinists, production supervisors, cutters and fabric suppliers.

Career Progression

Clothing pattern makers with experience in factories may go on to work in design houses. Those with skills in designing and making clothing may be able to start their own fashion business.