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Fashion Freelance Pattern Maker (David Russon)

SFD043: Build Your Career as a Freelance Pattern Maker (from anywhere)

March 05, 2018

You may think it’s impossible to have a career as a freelance pattern maker in the fashion industry. And you’d probably think it’s even more impossible to do it from a rural town. But that’s exactly what David Russon does. In today’s episode of the SFD podcast, he shares exactly how he built his freelance career and now earns a full-time living doing work he loves – pattern drafting and sample sewing. He does work for established and startup indie brands to help make sure their designs fit perfect (one of the most important parts).

When I first showed up to David’s studio in Greeley, CO (a farm town an hour outside of Denver), I had no idea what would be behind this unassuming door:

Freelance Pattern Maker Door (David Russon)

Turns out, it’s David studio where he does all his freelance pattern maker work:

Fashion Freelance Pattern Maker Door (David Russon)

I was lucky enough that David not only agreed to an audio interview, but he also let Marc and I bust out cameras for our (FIRST!) video documentary (eek!).

Below are three of the videos:


Next, listen to the interview below where David and I talk about:

  • What a freelance pattern maker in the fashion industry does
  • What is a block, cutter’s must, grading, and other terminology a pattern maker uses (hey designers – you should know this stuff too!)
  • How to get started as a freelancer (even if you don’t live in a fashion hub)
  • The importance of networking and being part of your local community
  • How to price your services
  • The ridiculously obvious thing David does to get more work (that most freelancers don’t)
  • How David’s process works (whether you have a sample garment or a napkin sketch)
  • How many opportunities there are to work in fashion outside of being a “designer”
  • What happens when you skimp or cut corners on pattern making
  • Why the fashion industry isn’t full of all divas (and how we can create a different culture)


Guest Info & Resources

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Fashion Freelance Pattern Maker

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Sew Heidi wrote
2018-08-03
Hi Pamela! Glad you enjoyed David's interview - and yes, you really can make it anywhere :). Keep up the good work in AI and you're welcome! X Heidi

Pamela Llano wrote
2018-08-02
How awesome to hear about people who are not located in a big city AND who understand and appreciate the complexities and math skills involved in patternmaking! As a designer in a small company far from the big city, I also do patternmaking (both old school paper in early phases and then digitally before production) as well as grading and a tiny bit of sample making in my work, so I definitely appreciate knowing about others with diverse skill sets beyond drawing pretty pictures. I'm also REALLY appreciating all of your tutorials as I attempt to learn to draw in Illustrator! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!
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