Pattern Maker

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Tshililo Eunice Mugabi is a patternmaker running her own clothing company. “My interest in patternmaking started when I was young. My mom was a seamstress and I got interested in what she was doing. From Grade 5 onwards, I was making my own clothes, from skirts to tops. They were top of the range and everybody loved them.”

Patternmakers can earn R5 000 to R10 000 a month and often find jobs working in clothing factories or boutiques.

They make patterns from designs presented to them by clients. “We make the pattern out of brown cover paper or pattern board, which is a hard board. This pattern board is a permanent pattern that is usually used to make a design that is used more frequently. I first draw the pattern and then I cut according to the shape of the pattern.”

“The pros of this career,” says Eunice, “are that I get to be creative every day by making designs. It’s challenging and I learn something new every day. The cons, on the other hand, are when a client gives you a design, you do it according to the picture they give you and, afterwards, they say it’s not what they asked for. Also, when I draw something and the pattern doesn’t come out exactly as I’ve drawn it, I find that to be a con.”

To become a patternmaker, Eunice recommends the course in Fashion Design and Technology, which includes pattern design. You don’t necessarily need any experience when you set out. As can be seen from Eunice’s smiling face, you also need to have a passion for this career.

If you want to follow a career in patternmaking, you will need to be able to pay attention to detail and be focused, meticulous, creative and, finally, and most importantly, friendly. You will need skills in communication, teamwork and drawing, as well as mathematics, to perform the necessary calculations when making a pattern.

Eunice works an average eight-hour day, from 08:00 to 16:30. “An average day is very busy, as I have so many clients that I look after,” she smiles. “We have lots of deadlines, so what I do on an average day is make patterns for samples for clients and, once that is approved by the client, then I need to make the patterns for the client’s orders. I will also renew old patterns, the ones we use regularly, design new patterns and obviously cut them out.”

“The best thing about the job is the ability to be creative, and create something that helps make something else that will be beautiful. I also love it when I make a pattern off a very difficult design and it comes out well,” laughs Eunice.

“The worst thing about the job is grading different sizes. Grading is what we use to size the garments, for example XL to XXXXXXL. I don’t like grading nine or more different sizes.”

Eunice advises the youth out there: “Choose something you really enjoy doing when deciding on your own careers.”

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