What is Pattern Cutting?

Pattern cutting refers to creating basic patterns, with your specific measurements, which you can adapt to make different designs. Since the final product is based on your measurements, the fitting is much better as compared to the ready-made patterns you buy.

In the fashion industry, it refers to the process of turning a design into a piece of fabric. However, before a design is made into a three-dimensional (3D) fabric, it is usually made on two-dimensional (2D) paper. In simple words, just imagine what you are wearing right now and think of it as a design that was first made on paper and, later, turned into a fabric. Thus, this is what pattern cutting is all about.

pattern cutting
Pattern Cutting Software

What is the Purpose of Pattern Cutting?

Once a pattern has been made, it can be used for an infinite period. The purpose is that it allows you to use the composition, i.e. your design, over and over again for eternity. Moreover, it allows designers to analyze a design and interpret it technically.


While there are many methods but the three most common ones are:

  1. Draping
  2. Flat Pattern Cutting
  3. Computerized Pattern Cutting


The origins of draping, also known as 3D pattern cutting, go back to 3500BCE; which was a process used to convert a flat clothing design into a 3D form. Draping means designing any fabric into a three-dimensional structure. It is a playful method that helps designers to display their creativity by twisting, turning, and folding the fabric.

Flat Pattern Cutting:

Flat pattern cutting is also referred to as creative pattern cutting. This method involves creating a two-dimensional pattern on a flat surface, using paper to create a pattern. A pattern cutter applying this method uses pattern blocks most often, which consist of a standard pattern with specific measurements to draw the pattern.

Although this method gives a less technical cut, it is more accurate and faster as compared to draping. It is, however, also possible to combine both pattern-cutting methods to produce one garment.

Computerized Pattern Cutting:

This type is also known as CAD or Gerber methods. The procedure is very similar to that of the creative method. A set of measurements are created, based on a specific design, which is then entered into the computer. The patterns are made on the computer using a computer-aided design (CAD) system.

Equipment needed:

Following is the basic equipment that you will need:

  • Tape measure
  • Pattern paper
  • Ruler 
  • Calculator 
  • Scissor
  • Rubber
  • Pencils/coloured pencils
  • French curve

How long does it take to learn?

Mostly, pattern cutting is offered as a course at the college and/or university level which may last for two to four years. However, it takes up to five years of professional experience in order to have a good grasp of the skill and capability to comprehend a variety of designs. This, however, does not mean that it can only be learnt from colleges and/or universities. A pattern cutter can be self-taught as well or he/she might have taken short courses. What matters is that you have a true passion and a creative mind for this while the technicalities can be learnt.

creative pattern cutting

What are the qualities of a good Pattern Cutter?

A good pattern cutter is one who can analyze any design in a three-dimensional form. In addition to this, a good pattern cutter should have a sensitive hand with a conscious mind; who can tactfully make stylish lines and curves with attention to detail. Other than the technicalities, a good pattern cutter must have an aesthetic mind to create an artful fabric.

Initially, It might seem to be a pretty complex and time-consuming field, however, it becomes easier as you start learning it and even more interesting once learnt.