Fashion Inside Out: Five Minutes with Claire Solley – Head of Patterns
Q What time does your alarm go off?
C My alarm usually goes off around 6 a.m. I like to have time for breakfast before leaving for the office at 7.
Q What’s a typical day like for you?
C I usually start my day by reading my emails and checking the pattern cutters work schedules in case anything needs to be moved around. Then I can get started on my patterns. Most days I will have a meeting whether it is a management/priorities meeting or a fit meeting with a client. Some days can be crazy with a couple of different meetings making it difficult to get the patterns done.
As a pattern cutter you are constantly learning new things and working on different products. No day is ever the same, especially at Fashion Enter.
Q Tell us about your career route, where did it all start for you?
C Surprisingly at school I took graphics not textiles, however by the time I finished school I had chosen to go to college and study fashion continuing this at university. Throughout college and university I always enjoyed the technical parts more than the drawing and designing. It was in my final year of university I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in pattern cutting. I was fortunate enough to get a job at a high-end supplier assisting in the machine room before being trained in-house to be a pattern cutter.
Q And did you spend any time completing work placements / experience?
During my summers at university I completed two work placements. The first was for an independent designer based just off Brick Lane. She had a studio in the basement under her store where the patterns were made and the garments were stitched. My second placement was for a design duo specialising in wedding/evening gowns based in Kentish town.
Q What key skills / attributes would you say are essential for this role?
C You definitely have to have an eye for pattern cutting. Being able to look at the patterns and see if the shapes look right before you even make a sample is crucial. You need patience as the patterns don’t always work, especially with the complicated styles it can be a bit of trial and error. Precision is important to make sure the patterns all match and will sew together correctly but you have to be fast paced to keep up with demand.
Q What is your most memorable work moment?
C The most memorable moment for me has to be at my first company when they told me that I could move into pattern cutting. I was so excited and proud that all my hard work had paid off!
Q What is the worst part of the job?
C I’m not sure it is the worst part as it gives you variety to your day meaning the work is never boring, but the hardest part is having to juggle so many different things at one time, from attending meetings to cutting patterns as well as assisting the machinist with their queries. You have to be constantly switched on so you don’t forget anything.
Q Best piece of advice you have been given?
C Always be honest, if you are finding something difficult or too much don’t be afraid to say. Sometimes you get so sucked down by what you are trying to do that you stop thinking clearly. Just by saying it out loud or discussing it with someone you often find the answer you have been looking for yourself, you just needed a sounding board.
Q After work you like to…
C Catch up with friends over dinner and drinks, play hockey or just relax at home watching TV.