Patternmaker Ringa Tauira Kākahu

Patternmakers turn clothing designs into patterns.

Patternmakers may do some or all of the following:

  • create pattern pieces by hand or on computer
  • cut out the pattern by hand or print out a copy using a computer
  • write garment-sewing instructions
  • help with fitting sample garments
  • adapt patterns for different sizes (grading).

Physical Requirements

Patternmakers need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses), normal colour vision, good hand-eye co-ordination and steady hands. You also need to be comfortable standing for long periods. 

Useful Experience

Useful experience for patternmakers includes:

  • community or night courses in dressmaking
  • dressmaking or tailoring
  • drawing or design work
  • work in a clothing factory or workroom.

Personal Qualities

Patternmakers need to be:

  • patient
  • quick and neat
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • able to follow instructions
  • able to work well under pressure
  • good at maths so they can measure and make calculations
  • good problem-solvers.


Clothing pattern makers need to have knowledge of:

  • patternmaking, and sewing codes and symbols
  • different sewing equipment and methods
  • different fabrics and textiles
  • body shapes
  • fashion design techniques
  • computer-aided design (CAD) software.



  • usually work regular business hours
  • work in factories and workrooms
  • work in conditions that can be noisy.

Subject Recommendations

A minimum of three years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include design and visual communication (graphics), digital technologies, maths and processing technologies.


Patternmakers can earn around $23-$36 per hour.

Pay for patternmakers varies depending on experience.

  • New patternmakers usually earn between minimum wage and a little more.
  • Mid-level patternmakers can earn between $23 and $25 an hour.
  • Senior patternmakers with more than 10 years' experience can earn up to $36 an hour.

Source: New Zealand Fashion Tech and Competenz, 2017.

With further training, patternmakers may become senior patternmakers, product developers or clothing designers. They may also become self-employed.

Patternmakers can specialise in a number of roles, including:

Marker Maker
Marker makers transfer graded patterns to thick paper, with sewing codes.
Pattern Grader
Pattern graders put patterns into a range of sizes.


Years Of Training

1-2 years of training required.

To become a patternmaker you need to have a New Zealand Diploma in Fashion Technology (Level 5) or equivalent. You can learn to become a patternmaker through a course or through a Competenz apprenticeship.