Textile Designer  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotTextile design is a highly skilled job. It involves creating designs and patterns for woven and knitted fabrics, carpeting, upholstery and other patterned or printed surfaces.

Clothing, carpeting and upholstery are obvious textile products. Airplane wings, linoleum flooring, vinyl wall covering, spacecraft insulation, scuba diving suits and protective clothing are not-so-obvious products.

dotTextile designers must know design. They have to understand how the designs will be produced on machinery or computerized looms. They also need a good sense of color and creativity.

Art and illustration skills are necessary for this field. "Someone wanting to go into textiles should have a good eye for color, pattern and market trends," says Sue Gundy. She is the principal designer for a textile firm in Seattle.

"They should be a hard worker and be able to work well under pressure. It is a competitive field."

Jozien Vet is the design director for a velvet and corduroy mill. "Color perception is extremely important," she says.

dotA textile designer needs to develop fabric for any piece of machinery. This means you have to select the fiber type, yarn size and construction method to match the intended use of the fabric.

Scott Manley is the technical designer for a textile and chemical firm in South Carolina. He says designing velour fabric for automotive seating, for example, involves a variety of tasks.

"I am involved heavily in sample scheduling, production troubleshooting, cost reduction, machinery evaluations, new process evaluations and competitor research," he says.

The designer will determine color based on the client's needs and desires. They will then design a pattern and present it to the client for approval.

"My function is to research design and color trends, buy and create designs and put together the collections for our sales team. I also supply our engravers with technical, ready-to-engrave artwork," explains Vet.

dotTextile designers need to be confident speaking in front of a group. Selling the customer on a concept is often part of the success or failure of a design.

Once the design is approved, the textile designer may serve as liaison between the mill and the client.

The mill may have questions about the color. Or it may have technical problems with specialized patterned weaves. The designer will need to figure those out.

dotTextile designers work alongside textile engineers and industrial or interior designers. They may work in a design studio, in manufacturing or as self-employed freelance designers.

Depending on where a textile designer is employed, they may do many different jobs. Or they might have one specialized area.

One such specialty is textile colorist. A colorist chooses the color combinations to be used in creating each textile design. Other specialties within the field include computer-aided textile designer, textile stylist and account executive.

dotTextile designers working in industry or manufacturing will usually work eight-hour shifts Monday through Friday. As in any field, overtime or Saturday work may be required when under deadline.

dotThere are no special physical requirements for this job. In most cases, the designer works in an office setting, using computers, scanners or pressure-sensitive tablets to add artwork into the computer and manipulate designs.

At a Glance

Create patterns for woven and knitted products

  • Textile designers need to be confident speaking in front of a group
  • You need a good eye for color, pattern and market trends
  • Courses in computer-assisted design are especially important