Textile designers create fabric designs and patterns for woven, knitted and printed materials used to make clothing, interior furnishings and other textile products.
As a textile designer, your key duties would include:
- producing initial sketches by hand or on computer, using specialist computer aided design (CAD) software
- manipulating digital designs until they meet customers’ requirements
- making up samples or having them constructed by technicians
- researching design trends and forecasts to decide what is likely to sell
- liaising with clients, technical staff, marketing and buying staff
- keeping up to date with developments in manufacturing technology.
You would often work closely with colleagues as part of a design team, and be involved with each stage of the design process .
As a freelance designer, you could be involved in all parts of the textile production process. This could include printing fabrics by hand or producing decorative woven or embroidered textiles for wall-hangings. You would also market your own work either directly from your studio and at craft fairs, or indirectly through galleries or shops.
What qualifications and experience will employers look for?
To be a textile designer you will usually need a BTEC HND or degree in textiles, art and design, fashion or a related subject.
To get on to a degree, you will normally need a recognised art and design foundation qualification or equivalent. If you already have proven work experience you may be able to start a degree course without the usual qualifications. To find course providers offering foundation courses, BTEC HNDs and degrees see the UCAS website.
You could take a more practical route by doing courses such as City & Guilds levels 1 to 3 in Creative Techniques in Textiles. This may help you to develop the skills needed to become self-employed as a craftsperson, or to build up a portfolio of work to be considered for a degree or other higher education course.
You will need to present a design portfolio when you are looking for work. You can also use your portfolio to make speculative applications to companies whose products match your style.
What further training and development can I do?
Once you are working in a creative business you can build on your skills by taking a qualification such as City & Guilds Level 4 Higher Professional Diploma in Creative Arts, which includes an option in stitched textiles.
If you intend to become self-employed, it may be useful to do further training in business skills and photography (which will help you to market your work).
You could gain recognition of your skill level by joining a professional body like those listed in the further information section. Being a member of an association would give you access to opportunities for professional development (CPD) and networking.