Textile Designer

   Manufacturing & Production

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Practical or MechanicalArtistic or CreativeSkill Level 3Skill Level 4Skill Level 5

Textile designers produce ideas and designs for printed, woven or knitted textiles and many patterned surfaces. (Source: Job Guide)

Textile designers create two-dimensional designs that can be used, often as a repeat design, in the production of knit, weave and printed fabrics or textile products. DeclineWorking in both industrial and non-industrial locations, they often specialise, or work in a specialist context, within the textile industry.

The two major areas of textiles are:

  • interiors (upholstery, soft furnishings and carpets);

  • fabrics for clothing (fashion or specialist, e.g. fire-proof).

Many textile designers are self-employed, while others work as part of a design team.



ANZSCO ID: 232312

Knowledge, Skills and Attributes Materials

You will need to show:

  •  creative flair and artistic ability - enjoy artistic and creative activities

  • a good eye for colour, texture, fabrics and patterns

  •  good drawing and visualisation skills

  • design skills and the ability to use computer-aided design (CAD) packages

  • excellent attention to detail

  •  able to understand and use colour

  •  interested in pattern and surface decoration

  • understanding and experience of using different textile processes and techniques

  •  creative and able to translate ideas into product

  • an interest in fashion and textiles, and an understanding of trends and materials

  •  good communication skills and teamworking skills

  •  good problem-solving skills

  • ability to work to deadlines and a budget

  • marketing, administrative and business skills - especially if you are self-employed


Duties and Tasks

Textile designers may perform the following tasks:Ideas

  •  accurately interpreting and representing clients' ideas

  • design and produce original woven, knitted or printed fabrics

  •  design fashion fabrics for clothing, including jackets, shoes, socks, jeans, hats, bags and lingerie

  •  design fabrics for homeware items, including chairs, carpets, bed linen and tableware

  •  design surface patterns for laminates, wallpaper, plastics, tiles, toys and packaging

  •  make drawings of initial concepts and work with various yarns and fabrics

  • making up sets of sample designs

  • working out design formulae for a group of samples

  • producing sketches, designs and samples for presentation to customers

  •  make decisions about colour, structure, surface pattern, weight and yarn composition, taking into account the final use of the fabric

  •  translate designs into marketable fabrics

  •  using specialist software and computer-aided design (CAD) programs to develop a range of designs

  • inspect pre-production for colour and quality, and approve these or instruct changes to be made

  •  produce finished artwork, storyboards and colourways (colour tone work)

  •  prepare the dispatch of design specifications for production/end use

  • assessing and approving completed items and production standards

  •  liaising with clients and technical, marketing, production team and buying staff to plan and develop designs, while working to deadlines and ensuring that projects are completed on time

  •  research and gather information about the target market

  • working independently, if self-employed, or liaising closely with colleagues as part of a small team

  • experimenting with colour, fabric and texture

  • maintaining up-to-date knowledge of new design and production techniques and textile technology

  • developing new design concepts

  • visiting sites and other sources of ideas for designs

  • sourcing fabrics and other materials at trade fairs, markets and antique shops

  • attending trade shows, as a delegate or as an exhibitor - this may involve representing the company with a display or stand, or appraising the work of competitors

  • keeping up to date and spotting fashion trends in fabric design by reading forecasts in trade magazines and using internet resources

  • developing a network of business contacts

  • if self-employed, managing marketing and public relations, finances and business administration and maintaining websites  (Source: Prospects UK)


Salaries

Salaries vary depending on geographical location and type of employer. The majority of textile designers work freelance, often to commission, so income levels can vary greatly. Designers may find they need to supplement their income from other sources and teaching is a popular option.

Working conditionsAt work

Textile designers work within and alongside industries such as fashion, automotive, interior design and technical textiles. They may also work within a studio environment alongside other designers, or as freelance designers working with a client base.

Working hours typically include extra hours to meet deadlines. Freelance designers do not have set hours and have to divide their time between designing and marketing their work.

Work settings differ and may include factories, backrooms or smart design studios. Freelance artists, craftspeople and designers may work from home or in workshops.

Long term, self-employment is an option, although setting up your own business in addition to maintaining design work is demanding and can take time.

Working alone and to short deadlines can be stressful and there is constant pressure to produce new ideas and make new contacts by visiting trade fairs and other events. Using your creative abilities within a commercial environment requires the ability to cope with criticism if a particular piece of work is not well received by a client.

Occasional travel within a working day and overnight absence from home may be required and overseas work or travel is possible.

Education and Training/entrance requirements

To become a textile designer you would usually need to complete a VET qualification in Textile Design & Development, or Fashion & Textile Design. Generally, you would require a senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. You may be required to present a folio of work with your application.
You can also become a fashion designer by completing a degree in fashion design or textile design. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent with English. Applicants may be required to attend an interview and/or submit a folio of their work.

A degree in one of the following areas may increase your chances:

  • art and design

  • fashion

  • knitwear

  • surface design

  • textiles

Textile degree courses may have a specialist focus, e.g. constructed textiles, mixed media or printed textiles. You should check whether your choice of course is appropriate for the way you wish to work.

Employment of textile designers is projected to decline.

Many Australian textile and apparel manufacturing companies have moved their manufacturing offshore, and so there are fewer opportunities available locally. Some opportunities may still be available in specialist manufacturers and design firms, or in working closely with fashion designers in the creation and use of new materials, such as moisture-wicking fabrics.

Did You Know?

Why STEM subjects and fashion design go hand in hand

The Conversation
The Conversation 25 August 2016


Materials that were theoretical thirty years ago have become pervasive. So when you buy yoga clothing from Lululemon that are “anti-bacterial” you are actually wearing fabrics that are coated in silver nano-whiskers.

In 2011, Parisian High Fashion forever changed when designer Iris van Herpen was invited as a guest member of La Chambre Syndicale de La Haute Couture. Van Herpen, who makes liberal use of hi tech materials such as magnetic fabric, laser cutters and custom developed thermoplastics which are 3D printed, was embraced by the oldest establishment as “Haute Couture”.

If you are going to study fashion in college, you will need to learn about fabrics, which are material science. No matter how advanced the school syllabus in textiles, by the time you get to college there will be new materials and technology that did not exist before you got there. If you learn chemistry and physics you will understand the underlying scientific principles on a deeper level, making new material science really easy in the future.

Learning chemistry in school introduces you to lab protocols, taking measurements and accurately recording experiments. These are the exact skills you will need when working with dyes and pigments in textiles.

Using dyes to change the colour of textiles is essentially carbon chemistry. To do this a designer must change the acidity or alkalinity of the fabric - known as the PH level. This allows the “chromophores,” which are the parts of the dye molecule that create colour, to embed into the fabric. The PH scale in chemistry is a logarithmic scale and this is one place where abstract mathematical ideas are actually used in practice.

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