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What is a Textile Designer?

Cassie L. Damewood
Cassie L. Damewood

A textile designer is the person who creates the two-dimensional designs and patterns used in the manufacturing of weaved, knitted and printed fabrics for making clothing, carpets and upholstery. He may also create patterns and motifs used in the production of greeting cards, wrapping paper, materials packaging or decorative ceramics. The patterns he creates for all these industries are normally repeated in the manufacturing process; the designs regularly cover the entire surface or large surfaces of the products.

A beginning textile designer often starts his career as an industry cutter or machinist and works his way up to textile designer. Another common career path involves obtaining a degree in design or a related field and creating a portfolio to present to prospective employers. Since the design industry is so competitive, many aspiring textile designers seek out both paid and non-paid internships to gain experience and establish industry contacts.

A finished textile.
A finished textile.

Aside from designing new patterns and images, a textile designer regularly communicates with buyers, clients and technical personnel to discuss design industry trends. Subsequent to assessing the projected needs, the designer normally meets with his team to establish design goals based on the information received. They may pair up or independently proceed to the sketch and design production step.

A closeup of satin cloth.
A closeup of satin cloth.

As the creative process moves forward, the textile designer interacts with his contemporaries to get feedback. It is important that his designs and samples reflect the goals they established. Good communication with the client also is important to ensure his needs are met.

After the samples are produced, they generally are reviewed by the designers for quality. Adherence to quality production standards is another area in which the artists regularly check one another’s compliance. Once the designs are approved, they are passed on to the client for final endorsement.

Silk, a type of textile.
Silk, a type of textile.

The textile designer’s career path regularly involves using computer-aide design (CAD) tools. The Internet is also an excellent source for the designer to seek new job challenges and research recent developments in his industry. Online sources for distinctive materials from around the world are also desirable, as are sites that cater to textile design exhibitions and trade shows that showcase new and innovative talent.

Polyester fabric.
Polyester fabric.

A textile designer may decide to become an independent contractor if his designs are very well received. He may have a unique talent in combining colors, texture and fabric that makes his designs exceptionally popular. This aptitude may present compelling opportunities to expand his career beyond those traditionally available to a textile designer.

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Discussion Comments


@Oceana - There are universities that offer textile design degrees. You can even find regular four-year colleges that offer these, but your best bet might be a design school.

My cousin went to design school, and all she had to study were courses relating to her field. Since you already have a bachelor's degree, you have probably taken your fill of math and science, and you are ready to learn about textile design only.

Your past design and art courses definitely will give you a jump on the learning process, but there is so much more to it. My cousin learned how to weave, knit, dye fabric, print patterns, and use software designed for this industry. You would benefit greatly from this degree program.


Does anyone know if you can get a degree specifically in textile design? This is something I would love to do, and I want to be fully prepared for it.

I have already gotten a bachelor's degree in art, so that is something I could build upon. I know the basics of design, and I even took some graphic design classes, so I know how to use design software.

Would this help me with textile design, or is there a lot more that I have to learn? I know that it is really hard to find a job these days, and if this field is already competitive, then I need to be extremely qualified.


I have always thought it would be so awesome to design patterns for products like this. Even if I got to be the person who came up with the designs to go on paper towels, I would be happy!

I am an out-of-work designer whose only experience is in newspaper advertising. This isn't very appealing to potential employers seeking textile designers.

It has been my dream to work in this industry, and I am considering going back to school to take some extra classes geared toward this field. I would love for my designs to someday be worn and seen by the world, even if I don't get to put my name on them. Just knowing that I designed that would be enough for me.


I worked as a freelance textile designer for a short time. I studied graphic design in college, and though I had no experience working with fabric or patterns, the man I worked for didn't mind, because he just wanted some ideas.

He owned a small fabric business, and he wanted me to come up with a design for some hunting jackets. He knew that he wanted pampas grass and camouflage colors in the design, but the rest was up to me.

Neither of us were really prepared for the project. My printer only printed on 8.5x11 paper, and he needed a huge sheet of the design, so I had to draw it out by hand, rather than using a computer. He had no idea what the printer's specifications were, and though I got paid for my work, I don't think he ever ended up using the design.

I can see how textile design can get complicated. Because of this experience, I have no doubt that proper training is necessary for someone to do good work that can be turned into textiles.

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    • A finished textile.
      By: sootra
      A finished textile.
    • A closeup of satin cloth.
      By: klikk
      A closeup of satin cloth.
    • Silk, a type of textile.
      By: Subbotina Anna
      Silk, a type of textile.
    • Polyester fabric.
      By: Silvia Crisman
      Polyester fabric.
    • Sateen fabric.
      By: katiagen
      Sateen fabric.
    • A folded square of linen.
      By: Viktor
      A folded square of linen.
    • A textile designer will generally involve the use of computer-aide design tools.
      By: yamix
      A textile designer will generally involve the use of computer-aide design tools.