Textile Designer Careers

How to become textile designer

What does a textile designer do?

Textile designers create 2D (two dimensional) designs for woven, knitted or printed fabrics and textile products, to be used in furnishings or clothing. They may also create designs for products such as floor and wall coverings, wrapping paper and packaging.

A major part of the work involves researching design trends and forecasts in order to determine what is likely to sell, and finding out about developments in manufacturing technology.

Some designers work for organisations such as design agencies, manufacturers or retailers, and at each stage of the design process will liaise with clients, technical staff, marketing and buying staff, and colleagues on the design team. They produce initial sketches by hand or on computer, using specialist CAD (computer aided design) software, and either make up samples or have them constructed by technicians.

Freelance designers often have relevant craft skills and may complete all parts of the process, for example hand-printing small batches of fabric, tufting rugs or producing decorative woven or embroidered textiles for wall-hangings etc. They market these either directly from their own studio, through craft fairs and similar outlets, or indirectly through galleries or shops.

What's the working environment like for a textile designer?

Textile designers working for companies usually work basic hours of 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but might work extra hours when there are deadlines to meet. Part-time work is sometimes possible.

Freelance designers do not have set hours, and will have to divide their time between designing (and possibly making up designs) and marketing their work. They may also need to supplement their income with other types of work, such as teaching.

Travel, in this country or abroad, may be necessary, for example to visit/exhibit at trade fairs, or to visit clients and manufacturers. A driving licence may be useful.

What does it take to become a textile designer?

To be a textile designer you need:

  • to be artistic and creative with an understanding of colour, texture and pattern
  • a good understanding of different techniques and the properties of different materials
  • IT skills, including the use of specialist CAD (computer aided design) software
  • good interpersonal skills and the ability to work as part of a team
  • to be able to budget and cost out work
  • to have the marketing, financial and administrative skills needed for running a business if you want to be a freelance designer.


Textile designer career opportunities

Employers include large manufacturing companies or small, exclusive design houses. Some designers also work for design practices or for architects or interior designers. As well as designing, freelance designers may supplement their design work by producing work to sell at craft fairs or by working part-time in teaching or other related areas.

As most design studios and manufacturers’ design departments are relatively small, opportunities for promotion may be limited: progression to senior design positions may be possible.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about textile design that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Register of Apparel and Textile Designers
5 Portland Place
Tel: 020 7636 5577

Scottish Textiles Network
Scottish Enterprise
Apex House
99 Haymarket Terrace
EH12 5DH
Tel: 0131 313 6243

Embroiderers Guild
Apartment 41
Hampton Court Palace
Tel: 020 8943 1229

Crafts Council
44a Pentonville Road
N1 9BY
Tel: 020 7278 7700

Arts Council England
14 Great Peter Street
Tel: 0845 300 6200

Textile Institute
1st Floor
St James's Buildings
Oxford Street
M1 6FQ
Tel: 0161 237 1188

The Chartered Society of Designers
Bermondsey Exchange
179-181 Bermondsey Street
Tel: 020 7357 8088

The Design Council
34 Bow Street
Tel: 020 7420 5200

Design Trust

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444

Creative and Cultural Skills
11 Southwark St



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