How to become a Textile Designer. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Textile Designer do?
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.
As a textile designer within a design house you will usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. A lot of your time will be spent at a computer, designing fabrics and manipulating patterns. You may need to travel within the UK or overseas, for example to exhibit at trade fairs, or to visit clients and manufacturers.
As a freelance designer you will normally split your time between designing and marketing your work. You may also need to supplement your income with other types of work, such as teaching.
How much does a Textile Designer earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Starting salaries for designers can be around £18,000.
- Experienced textile designers can earn £28,000 upwards
- Senior designers or design directors may earn £43,000 or more.
Income varies depending on the type of employer.
Freelance designers may charge per design or per collection and rates vary widely.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
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 Universities and Colleges Admissions Service website.
- Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
You could take a more practical route by doing an Award, Certificate or Diploma in Creative Techniques. 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.
Training and Development
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.
Skills and Knowledge
- creative flair, with an eye for colour, texture and pattern
- a good understanding of different techniques and the properties of different materials
- knowledge of CAD software
- good communication skills
- the ability to work in a team and on your own initiative
- budgeting skills and the ability to work out costs
- marketing, financial and administrative skills needed for running a business.
You could work with organisations ranging from large manufacturing companies to small, exclusive design houses. You may also find opportunities with architects, interior designers, fabric or clothing manufacturers and retailers.
Making speculative applications and using contacts you’ve made through your course, professional body or trade fairs can be a successful way of securing work in this area, perhaps more so than searching for traditionally advertised vacancies.
With experience, you could progress to senior design positions, or work as a product or project manager.